02 December 2008 – By Cormac Campbell and Mark Doyle
Paul McCloskey has been granted his British light-welterweight title wish sooner than expected.
The 29-year-old Dungiven man had been due to fight in an eight-rounder on the undercard of David Barnes’ title defence against Colin Lynes on Friday night, with the promise of a mandatory shot at the victor in the New Year.
However, Barnes has subsequently pulled out of the fight and the BBBC have stripped him of his title, allowing McCloskey to step in and fight Lynes for the vacant strap.
Understandably, McCloskey is thrilled by the shock developments – and insists that the last-minute nature of the match-up will not be a problem for him.
“Its a chance that has come a bit out of the blue but its one Im ready for,” the undefeated southpaw stated. Ive sparred over 100 rounds and my weight is perfect. I always give it 100 percent in training for each and every fight so Im in excellent shape.
To be honest, Ive felt for a long time that Im ready for these kind of fights. I feel Im at my peak as an athlete so from that point of view the timing of this has been perfect.
“At the start of the year I set a goal for myself of ending the year as either British or European champion so this is my chance to make that happen.
McCloskey has an enormous amount of respect for Lynes but is in no doubt that he has the skills to defeat the former European champion.
I watched Colin outpoint Juho Tolppola back in January and hes a decent fighter. Hes proved hes above British level having won the European title but I believe Im the better fighter and am very confident of beating him,” he stated.
I’ve also just watched his European title defeat to Gianluca Branco and while hes technically very good I think he probably left the title behind him in Italy because if hed been a bit more adventurous I believe hed have beaten Branco.
“Im not sure how hell feel about fighting me; he was preparing to fight a southpaw anyway with Barnes so maybe the change wont affect him too much. Im sure the bookies will probably have him favourite and if hes underestimating me then thats fine as well.
“Ive answered every question asked of me in my pro career to date and this is just another test I have to pass. The fact that the fight will be in his own back garden only makes it all the more special. Im buzzing about this opportunity, I believe everything happens for a reason and Im confident of delivering the goods on Friday night.”
Indeed, McCloskey’s promoter, Brian Peters, believes that the bout will finally establish McCloskey as a star in Britain, as well as Ireland.
Paul has been pretty much flawless to date in his pro career and I believe hes capable of winning British, European and World titles,” he enthused.
“Hes been something of a well kept secret from British fight fans until now but I think theyll all find out just how good he is on Friday night.
The bill, which takes place at the Goresbrook Leisure Centre on Friday night and will be televised live on Sky Sports, is the first of a series of major fights for Irish boxers in December.
On Saturday, Oisin Fagan faces Amir Khan on a bill which will also feature Martin Rogan’s clash with Audley Harrison, while Darren Sutherland will make his professional debut at DCU on December 18. Jason McKay, Brian Magee and James Moore will also all be in title action this month.