7 January 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
The EBU has confirmed Paul McCloskey will make a voluntary defence of his European light welterweight title against Michele Di Rocco in Belfast on March 5.
Having taken the short route to victory against Italys Giuseppe Lauri and done the business against Barry The Bizness Morrison since claiming the EBU strap, fans of the Dungiven stylist had hoped a marquee name or even world title tilt was next on the Dudey agenda.
But instead the Euro Champ now faces second Italian job against a beatable opponent at the start of what will prove to be an action packed month for Irish boxing.
Former Olympian, Di Rocco has good amateur pedigree and his sole boxing reverse comes at the gloves of fellow Italian Lauri, who is ironically mandatory challenger for McCloskeys continental crown, but victory over the European No. 9 would do little to grab the attention of the light welterweight world champions.
However, coach John Breen insists the slick southpaw remains on course for a 2011 world title challenge regardless of the calibre of his next opponent.
Breen stressed McClsokey has already proven his world title credentials and with top five rankings with two of the main governing bodies just has to keep beating continental ranked opponents to upgrade from contender to challenger.
The Belfast based trainer also admitted Amir Khan is now out their reach but claims the Matchroom promoted star is closing in on the other strap holders.
We have yet to be given official conformation of opponent and venue yet, but Paul is capable of beating anyone, Breen told Mirror Sport.
If you are ranked in Europe you are a good fighter and wins at this level only move Paul up the ladder. It doesnt make a difference if the guy is a name or a special fighter or not. A win means Paul moves closer to the World title. Paul will challenge for a world title this year. He has the quality and his world ranking means he is in a position to do so, Breen who trains the fighter who hasnt lost in 22 professional bouts added.
Amir Khan was the one we wanted and we would be confident of beating him, but maybe he is too hard to get now. He has moved on. He is now talking about fighting Floyd Mayweather, but Paul will close in on one of the other champions.
Meanwhile, Peter McDonagh, who last year dropped a points decision to Di Rocco, is hoping to secure a slot on the undercard of Willie Caseys WBA title fight with Guillermo Rigondeax on March 19.
In an email to irish-boxing.com McDonagh said that he is, looking to get my Irish title back. Ideally, McDonagh wishes to square off against the returning Oisin Fagan on the Citywest card.