13 March 2009 – By Cormac Campbell
British light-welterweight champion Paul McCloskey can finally look forward to a major homecoming performance following an impressive fourth round stoppage of game challenger Dean Harrison in Widnes on Friday.
The unbeaten Dungiven native had been looking forward to making the first defence of the Lonsdale belt he won on the road by defeating Colin Lynes in December at the Kings Hall, but the demands of TV paymasters SKY ensured that the 2008 Irish boxer of the year would again have to travel to Britain.
In former sparring partner Harrison, McCloskey was facing a late replacement for Scotsman Barry Morrison, who withdrew from the contest due to injury. It mattered little as the southpaw peppered his English opponent with the now customary barrage of unortodox punches. Harrison was down twice in the first round and although he remained on his feet until the bout’s conclusion in the fourth he was outboxed, outfought and outclassed throughout. Having seen enough, referee Marcus McDonald stepped in to end the punishment.
Ranked number one contender for the EBU crown, McCloskey may be given the opportunity to contest that title immediately. However, equally possible is a mandatory defence of the Lonsdale belt against unbeaten English based Nigerian Ajose Olusegun. Purse bids for the contest are expected within the next month.
The Widnes undercard had further Irish interest as British featherweight champion Paul Appley (Scotland) tuned up for his April 25 Ulster Hall defence against Belfast’s Martin Lindsay with a first round stoppage of Juan Garcia Martin of Spain.