01 October 2009 – By Cormac Campbell
Paul McCloskey is looking forward to winning the European light-welterweight title on home soil on November 6.
The Dungiven native will enter the ring as favourite, having made the short journey along the A6 to Magherafelt. Facing him will be reigning champion Souleymane M’baye, a former WBA champion who lifted the title last time out with victory over McCloskey victim Colin Lynes.
Tickets for the bill at the Meadowbank Sports Arena are set to go on sale in the coming days and McCloskey is primed for action.
“Im sitting nicely weight wise. Im five weeks out and Im just 10 or 12 pounds over so that is just perfect for me,” he told irish-boxing.com.
“I started my sparring this week, so Ive a lot of work to do. Ill be full time training from the start of this week.”
Having twice fought in Letterkenny, the Magherafelt contest will be McCloskeys first in his home county, and understandably the Derryman believes his French opponent will have to contend with a partisan crowd.
“I have a lot of people coming. Im inundated with phonecalls. People have been calling in to my shop looking to know about the fight. So as soon as I get the word I can start selling the tickets.”
Having won the British title late last year against Lynes, McCloskey is hopeful of adding the EBU strap something that would greatly improve his chances of a World title tilt. With such a bright future mapped out, it is unsurprising that the former St Canices stylist has taken the plunge and developed a new website, dedicated to his career (paulmccloskey.com) and offering ticket sales and an online shop. This he feels is an important part of career progression it will not, he believes, interfere with the boxing.
“You have to evolve,” he explained.
“I think it is a wise thing. It keeps people informed and aware of what you are doing and where you have come from. But my head is just focused on MBaye on November 6.
“Every time you get between the ropes there is a possibility that you could get knocked out. It is a possibility but Im very focussed in how I box. My training is second to none. I put a lot of effort into it. I always go in with some form of gameplan but obviously if needs be that goes out of the window and you have to dig deep.
“Thats boxing you get in there and you take chances. But if youre in good shape and you dont make any mistakes you should be on the winning side.”
What McCloskey is hoping to do is provide a little good news for the Irish boxing community who have endured the tragedy of Darren Sutherlands death and the disappointment of Bernard Dunnes recent World title defeat.
“The Darren Sutherland thing I just havent got out of my head yet,” he admitted. “I cant comprehend it, God bless him.
“For Bernard we knew the possibilities of what could happen and that was one of them. We all thought that if he could keep it long and at distance, keep it moving he could get to him but the Thai showed how good he was.”
McCloskey also said that the fact that whilst he is disappointed his date with destiny clashes with Martin Rogans rematch with Sam Sexton at Belfasts Odyssey Arena, he is only thinking about one thing.
“It is a pity the boys will be fighting in Belfast, but I cant let that get into my head at all. I have a job to do and I intend on doing it.”
Should he emerge victorious McCloskey believes he is ready to take on the worlds best.
“All I want to be is European Champion come the New Year. After that we will see what happens, Id be looking to move on.
“Either a good defence or a World title. There are champions I would jump into the ring with now, but all I can think about is getting that belt.”