Paul McCloskey is ready for a whole new experience when he challenges for the European light-welterweight title — home support.
McCloskey won and successfully defended the British light-welterweight title in England but now Barry Hearn’s Matchroom Sports company have delivered European champion Souleymane M’Baye at the Meadow Sports Arena in Magherafelt on November 6.
“It’s great to be fighting for the European title and it’s only 20 minutes from my door,” said McCloskey as he looked out at the impressive £6m venue.
“This place is going to be rocking for the fight with M’Baye. There’s been a lot of interest in the fight and it will be great to feel the buzz of my own fans getting right behind me.
“I’m the first man from the Derry area in 30 years to be boxing for the European title here, the last was Charlie Nash, so that’s special.
“If I can win this title then I know it can open the door to bigger things and I would be lying if I said that Amir Khan is not on my radar but I can’t afford to be thinking about World titles. I just have to focus on getting the European belt first.”
M’Baye may have won the vacant title in the summer but it was a struggle against Colin Lynes, who McCloskey tortured when winning the British belt last year.
Hence, McCloskey will start a clear favourite but suggestions that M’Baye’s best days are behind him receive a sharp retort.
“Of course some people say that M'Baye is past his best but I won't be making that mistake. I'll be preparing as hard as ever and I will expect him to bring his best to the fight because he has already been linked with a world title fight.
“He's proven himself to be a very good fighter — I used to watch him boxing on Eurosport when I was an amateur and I could see that he was a smart fighter.”
McCloskey-M’Baye comes on the same night as Martin Rogan’s Commonwealth heavyweight title clash with champion Sam Sexton who box at the Odyssey Arena but the 30-year-old challenger does not believe it will effect those coming to his big night.
The No.1 challenger added: “I'm hoping there will be a good crowd because I don't think the Rogan fight in Belfast will affect my support.
“It’s two different areas so I don’t think it’s going to have a big impact.
“I just hope I can go in there and to the business.”