Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

McCloskey will never have a better chance to win

Paul McCloskey during a media call in Manchester's Triangle Shopping Centre

The cash crisis that has engulfed the Amir Khan camp in the past few days should be music to Paul McCloskey’s ears.

That is the view of experienced manager and promoter Barney Eastwood, who guided numerous fighters to championship glory in the 1980s and 1990s and continues to offer advice to those boxers who seek him out.

Eastwood has watched with admiration how McCloskey has moved up the boxing ladder, taking the British and European titles and now he has landed a shot at WBA World light-welterweight champion Khan on Saturday night at the MEN Arena.

While Khan has always been seen as the clear favourite, Eastwood now feels the context of the fight has changed due to the wrangling over television money which led to Sky Sports declining to screen the big showdown — which was originally to be screened on Sky Box Office.

Now, it is on Primetime at a cost of £14.95 and Khan’s purse is said to be dropping from around £1.2m to £300,000.

Eastwood said: “I don’t know Khan personally, but I do know that with most fighters what has happened with the row over television rights would not be good for them.

“In the week leading up to a fight the only thing a fighter should be thinking about is the fight, he shouldn’t be thinking about what he’s getting paid or who is showing the fight.

“If I was his manager I’d be keeping his mind totally on the job because the mind in sport at this level is everything. We saw that at the weekend with young Rory McIlroy.

“That was his world title fight and when it came to it you could see how it all got to him in the end, the thought of winning was too much.

“Now Khan has to deal with all that is going on around him and I think all this has been a big plus for McCloskey.

“Frankly, McCloskey will never have a better chance of winning the world title.

“He’s got the confidence of an undefeated fighter, he’s clearly in the condition of his life and he has that awkward southpaw style to make it very hard for Khan.

“Of course you would still expect the smart money to be on Khan, but things have changed and one factor that people cannot underestimate is that this is a man against a boy. McCloskey’s 31 years of age, he’s been around and he won’t be fazed at all about facing Khan.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see how Khan handles all this.”

Champion Khan said: “Sky were at first showing their support and then all of a sudden things went downhill and they pulled out of the fight.

“I really thought this would have been a massive fight, especially after I had a great fight last year and won the best fight of the year, but it's one of those things.

“Things happen for a reason and as long as the fight's going to be shown, that's the main thing for my fans. And for 16,000 people to come to the fight just shows how much demand there is.

“People have asked me if it has distracted me but I'm so focused on my job, and my job is to fight and win. I've left it to my team and hopefully after the fight I'll see what the truth behind it was.”

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