Belfast Telegraph

I won’t fall for same trap, says Paul McCloskey ahead of title defence against Barry Morrison

By David Kelly

Ego must always take its place in the life of a sportsman, or any workplace for that matter, and how it is controlled usually determines the final destination of a career.

Gloves on: Paul McCloskey and Barry Morrison will clash in Letterkenny on October 2.Presseye

You suspect the ‘one fight too many' syndrome will not befall Paul McCloskey when he eventually decides to walk away from the sport which history has taught us has greater addictive qualities than most.

As the Dungiven man mused over his second European light-welterweight title defence on October 2 against Barry Morrison he demonstrated a reality compass rarely found in fighting men.

Most boxers, having knocked out their previous challenger in emphatic fashion as McCloskey did in the 11th round against Giuseppe Lauri, would have glossed over the previous 10 rounds but not the Dungiven man.

“It's back to basics for me, back to doing what I do best and that's using my boxing skills,” said McCloskey, who faces Scottish challenger Morrison at the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny — the first time Donegal has staged a European title fight.

“I can't be standing trading with fighters. I may not be a genius but I'm smart enough to know the score when it comes to the ring.

“I allowed the guy to get to me, the fight turned into a scrap and I shouldn't have allowed that to happen.

“And also I allowed my camp to be about three weeks too long and I guess that was because I had the issue with my back and I was a bit worried that if I missed some training I would still have time to make it up.

“Instead, I was probably ready to fight three weeks out, so you know you never stop learning and this will be a shorter camp and I will box the way I usually do — I'll show people the Paul McCloskey they're used to seeing.

“Really, I don't have a lot to gain in this fight and he does. I'm putting everything on the line but then you do that in every fight.

“People have questioned my power but I've finished 11 of my 21 opponents inside the distance so I must have some kind of power.

“I've always believed that if you hit people clean enough and often enough on the chin then no mat

ter who they are you have a chance of knocking them out and that's what happened with Lauri.

“I was nowhere near my best in my last fight at the King's Hall — I was annoyed with my performance so I'll be looking to put on a much better display of boxing in Letterkenny.”

McCloskey will be a red hot favourite to retain his title as he seeks to take another step towards his dream of a world title shot, though Morrison's manager Tommy Gilmour was doing his best to bolster the threat of the challenger, a former British champion. “This is a wonderful opportunity for Barry and it's come completely out of the blue,” said Gilmour.

“Barry realises that this is probably a now or never fight as realistically it will be his last chance to prove himself at European level.

“Both lads had exceptionally good amateur pedigrees and they have similar levels of experience in the pro ranks. They are both good punchers without being devastating hitters so I see it as a war of attrition and I think it will come down to who wants it most.”

In the chief supporting contest Cavan's Andy Murray faces a step up in class as he takes on Johnny Nolasco from the Dominican Republic in an International 10 round contest, while Donegal's Michael McLaughlin makes his professional debut.

Tickets on sale from September 1.

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