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Boxing: Morrison standing in way of champion McCloskey's big shot

WHEN unbeaten Paul McCloskey ducks between the ropes in Donegal tonight, he knows he is going into a title fight he must win.

The Derry southpaw defends his European light welterweight championship against Scotland's Barry Morrison at the Letterkenny Leisure Centre -- and defeat could ruin his hopes of getting a world title fight in 2011.

McCloskey is currently listed No 4 in the World Boxing Council's rankings and he will be aiming to further press his claims for matches against the likes of Britain's Amir Khan and the unbeaten Americans Tim Bradley and Devon Alexander.

These are considered the marquee names in the first division and McCloskey is confident that he will successfully get past Morrison in what is the second defence of his title.

"I know a lot about Morrison as we came up through the amateurs together," said McCloskey, who is without a loss in 21 fights, in Belfast yesterday. "He's strong, very tough, but I think I can beat him."

Morrison, with 18 wins in 22 fights, said after arriving in Letterkenny yesterday: "This is my big chance. It's probably a now-or-never opportunity for me, but I'll be the winner."

In the chief supporting bout, Cavan's EU lightweight champion Andy Murray takes on the Dominican Republic's Johnny Nolasco and again, a home victory would be imperative as Murray is also closing in on a world title shot.

Much interest on the nine-fight Brian Peters promotion will also focus on the sensational Cork-based Cubans, super bantamweight Alexei Acosta and super middleweight Luis Garcia, who are both unbeaten. The bill also includes two current Irish champions, Dublin featherweight Patrick Hyland and Galway heavyweight Coleman Barrett, Mayo lightweight Finbarr Eade and Donegal light welterweight debutant Michael McLoughlin. McCloskey v Morrison,

Live, RTE 2, 9.30

Irish Independent