Belfast Telegraph

Boxing: Morrison ready to rock McCloskey

By David Kelly

Barry Morrison is planning to wreck the world title ambitions of Paul McCloskey on Saturday night.

Morrison, a former British champion, is the latest obstacle for McCloskey who puts his European title on the line against the Scot in Letterkenny.

The 30-year-old challenger claimed the British light-welterweight title in 2007 from Lenny Daws before losing to Colin Lynes from whom McCloskey took the Lonsdale belt a year later before vacating to pursue the European title.

McCloskey's career has gone from strength to strength, while Morrison has come up short in two subsequent British title shots, losing to David Barnes and previous victim Daws.

Morrison's wily manager Tommy Gilmour knows his man is the underdog but remains convinced that an upset could be on the cards.

Gilmour points to McCloskey's last defence of the title when he came through a tough duel with Giuseppe Lauri before stopping the Italian in the 11th round as evidence that he could be toppled.

“As far as I'm concerned, if the Paul McCloskey who fought Lauri turns up on Saturday night along with the Barry Morrison who beat Lenny Daws in their first fight then we're coming home with the European belt,” said Gilmour.

“We know that McCloskey is the favourite to win on Saturday night but upsets happen in boxing and when they were coming through as amateurs there was very little between them and I think it's going to make for a very good fight.

“The Lauri fight exposed a few weaknesses in McCloskey which we hadn't seen before so it's going to be very interesting.”

While unbeaten Dungiven man McCloskey believes Morrison is another stepping stone towards a world title bid in 2011, the Scot is determined to prove that he can still cut it at the highest level.

Having sparred with fellow Scot Ricky Burns before his WBO World title success earlier this month, Morrison is fired up for the showdown with McCloskey.

Morrison said: “The pressure is all on McCloskey. He sees me as a stepping stone to a world title fight and he is in front of his own fans. At the press conference to announce the fight last month he kept being questioned about when he was going to get his world title fight.

“I was just sitting there and they overlooked me. It’s not a good thing for him to overlook me but I hope he will.

“This is a huge opportunity for me with the possibility of a world title fight if I win. I sparred with Ricky Burns at the start of my camp for this fight and it was at the end of his camp for the World title fight with Roman Martinez.

“He’s an inspiration and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. I’ve always worked hard but I’ve had a lot of bad luck in the last few years with illnesses and I just want to crack on.

“I don’t feel I have fulfilled my potential. Knowing this is my last chance at this level is an extra incentive.”

The supporting bill is headed by unbeaten Andy Murray in an entertaining ten rounder with Johnny Nolasco from the Dominican Republic.

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