Tuesday 28 March 2017

Brave McCloskey closing in on showdown with Maidana

Boxing

Garry Doyle

Paul McCloskey is in line for a €200,000 payday, a shot at Marcos Maidana for the WBA light-welterweight championship and a place in Irish boxing history.

That's quite a turnaround for a man who looked out on his feet -- not to mention out of his depth -- midway through his world title eliminator against Breidis Prescott on Saturday.

Perhaps the realisation that his career was on the line drove McCloskey to his improbable victory, which came via the judges' scorecards, after his bruising contest with the Colombian.

"I knew I was fighting terribly," said McCloskey afterwards. "I just couldn't get any momentum. Up until now, my reputation has been based on skill. That victory was all about heart."

Prescott fell away in the second half of the fight, losing every round from the sixth onwards to see his sizeable lead disappear. "I still believe I won," he said. "I feel it was a home-town decision." Prescott's feelings are an irrelevance now to McCloskey.

With a significant name on his record, he now poses a legitimate threat to Maidana, who troubled Amir Khan relentlessly when they met in Las Vegas a year ago.

First up, though, Maidana has to take care of business against Petr Petrov in his homeland.

"I'm ready to fight Maidana anywhere," said McCloskey. "Ultimately what I'd really love is a crack at Khan again."

Nor has Khan much time for McCloskey. When they met in Manchester earlier this year, the fight was stopped early after an accidental head collision, leaving Khan the winner. McCloskey has been vying for a rematch ever since but Khan told him to prove himself.

That's what he did on Saturday. Prescott is the only man to defeat Khan; Maidana lost on points to the Englishman. So should McCloskey claim the title then a reunion with the Athens Olympian is possible even if Khan's eyes are on Floyd Mayweather and a €20m payday.

On the undercard, Carl Frampton had an easy victory over Mark Quon to claim the first major title of his career, the Commonwealth super-bantamweight belt. The Belfast man is now hoping to fight Kiko Martinez -- who knocked out Bernard Dunne -- for the European title.

Irish Independent

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