Belfast Telegraph

Amir Khan has sights on title clash with Paul McCloskey

By David Kelly

Paul McCloskey’s dream fight with WBA World light-welterweight champion Amir Khan took a major step towards becoming a reality yesterday.

Dungiven’s unbeaten European light-welterweight champion now seems to be heading the queue for a showdown with Khan on April 16 at the MEN Arena in Manchester.

Yesterday Khan said that McCloskey was “an option” as his next challenger and that sparked a series of messages posted on Twitter between Khan’s official site and McCloskey.

The European champion’s hopes of a pay-per-view duel with Khan were enhanced when a tweet from the Khan camp said: “Amir Khan wants it, Paul McCloskey wants it. Let’s make this happen.”

It seems that American Lamont Peterson has priced himself out of a showdown with Khan and that has opened the door for McCloskey, who is ranked a place higher than the American at number five in the WBA ratings.

McCloskey said: “I’m very hopeful now that the fight can be made.

“It’s a fight I have wanted for some time and I have earned the right to fight Khan the traditional way by winning the British and European titles and I’m unbeaten.

“I think the next 24 to 48 hours are going to be very exciting, we should hopefully know if the fight will happen.

“It would be a great fight for the public and I know that I can beat him.”

Khan is keen to get his next challenger nailed down and although he also mentioned Victor Ortiz as a possible opponent, it is understood that his camp have McCloskey at the top of their list.

Khan said: “It seems that when it comes to me everyone asks for too much money. So I’ve left it with my promoter Golden Boy Promotions to work out.

“I’m looking forward to boxing in Manchester, it’s a homecoming because I haven’t boxed in Britain for 12 months.”

McCloskey’s adviser and father-in-law Francie McNicholl is cautiously optimistic that a deal can be done between Khan/Golden Boy and Matchroom Promotions.

McNicholl said: “Paul is self-managed, but we are happy for Matchroom to carry out the discussions for this fight because they have the experience for this.

“We are just waiting to see where it goes from here, but it’s very encouraging that Paul is now in the frame and that Khan has mentioned him.”

Khan’s options for a legitimate contender are limited and McCloskey would seem to have all the credentials, even though his profile would be low Stateside. Nevertheless, when the champion calls you out it means a deal can be done and so it’s over to the promoters to thrash it out.

Meanwhile, Frank Warren has criticised David Haye's camp for their failure to agree a heavyweight unification bout with Wladimir Klitschko.

Warren hit out at Haye and his manager, saying they are to blame for the collapse of the deal.

“The contract between ourselves and Wladimir had a get-out clause in it that said he could fight someone else if he pulled out,” Warren said.

“It was no secret that they were talking to Haye but thankfully, true to form, Adam Booth and David Haye made it an easy decision for them.

“I read some of the things that have been said from Adam Booth and David Haye about how difficult the Klitschkos were, but I have dealt with them on two occasions and I can honestly say that Adam Booth is without a doubt the most difficult person I've ever had to deal with in boxing.”

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