McCloskey and Khan ready for war

16 April 2011 – Jonny Stapleton

Paul McCloskey believes he will have to produce his greatest ever performance in the MEN arena tomorrow night – if he is to become Irelands next world champion.

The Dungiven native, who looked relaxed and super fit at yesterdays weigh in, admits he needs a near immaculate display if he is to dethrone Amir King Khan and claim the WBA light welterweight crown. But the Derry stylist is adamant he will register a career defining innings in front of over 5,000 Irish fans in a clash that could lead to so much boxing riches he has labelled it his Rainbow fight.

The John Breen trained fighter, who like Khan tipped the scales at 139lb at a well supported weigh in Manchester yesterday, is confident he can succeed were Willie Casey and Brian Magee failed and become Irelands latest world champ. McCloskey claims it would be a honour to join an elite band of Irish boxing heros that includes Steve Collins, Bernard Dunne and the legendary Barry McGuigan amongst others.

However the former Irish amateur champion hinted victory for him over Khan could eclipse previous Irish success. The undefeated European champion stressed he is fighting one of the biggest and most recognisable names in boxing at present, making his potential victory a bigger achievement than previous Irish fighters world title success.

I have a lot of respect for the likes of Barry McGuigan, Dave Boy McAuley, Steve Collins, Wayne McCullough and the rest of the champions from these shores. It would be a great honour to be crowned World Champion and follow in their footsteps. All those guys were great champions and I would love to be a champion too.

I know I will have to produce my greatest performance, but it’s a performance that I know is there. It is not a performance that I’m hoping and praying will come out of me. It is a performance I know that it is there. I am confident that peak performance will come out tomorrow.

I have the tools and skills. I know I can beat Khan. I think it will be a bigger achievement than Barry McGuigan beating Eusebio Pedroza because Khan is at his peak and in terms of profile he’s one of the biggest names in boxing.

Such is underdog McCloskeys focus and confidence ahead of Saturdays clash that a respected sports physiologist turned him away when he went in pursuit of her services. Just like Bernard Dunne did before his world title win over Ricardo Cordoba, McCloskey employed a personal trainer ahead of the biggest fight of his career-and he sported the physique to prove at yesterdays weigh in.

However, unlike Steve Collins, who famously used the services of a psychologist before he took the WBO super middleweight world title from the waist of then superstar Chris Eubank, Dudey doesnt need any mental help.

We employed the services of a sports psychologist, a lady who is pretty well-known in Ireland. Paul was booked in for an hour, with a view to having sessions with her. Paul walked out of there 45 minutes later. Theres nothing I can do for Paul, she said. She assessed him as the perfect model of confidence, manager Francie McNicholl explained.

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