Belfast Telegraph

McCloskey world title shot lined up for Belfast

By David Kelly

Pencil in September 8 in your sporting diary as it may well be the night Belfast hails new World and European champions on the same evening.

Promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed that the Odyssey Arena is being lined up for Paul McCloskey’s World title shot and Carl Frampton’s European title clash with champion Kiko Martinez.

It would be one of the biggest boxing events to ever come here as Hearn now has the WBC light-welterweight title in his sights for the former European champion.

Initially McCloskey was on the path to a second crack at the WBA belt but negotiations with Marcos Maidana hit a roadblock and now the equally prestigious WBC title is the main aim. Hence, the stakes have just been raised ahead of Saturday night’s clash between McCloskey and former World champion Demarcus Corley.

Last month American Danny Garcia upset the odds when defeating Mexican legend Erik Morales to land the vacant WBC gong and the mandatory challenger is Ajose Olusegun, which Hearn says is good news for McCloskey.

Hearn said: “Olusegun fights Garcia in the summer, probably in late June, early July and he is promoted by Lou DiBella who is effectively our partner in the States. I would expect Olusegun to win that fight and I have already spoken to DiBella about him defending in Belfast and he has agreed.

“DiBella has said that he would have no problem bringing the champion here to fight Paul and I know that we can come to an agreement that makes financial sense for everybody.

“Saturday night’s fight is now so crucial because the winner will go into the top 10 rankings and once that happens then the door is open to a shot at the winner of Garcia and Olusegun. Of course Corley knows that is a chance open to him now so you know he’s going to be giving it everything.

“We tried to get Maidana for Paul for the WBA title but just got nowhere. We offered him 300,000 dollars plus international television rights which would have amounted to 600,000 dollars and frankly that was incredible money but they knocked it back.

“Now we are going down the WBC route and as long as Paul keeps his end of the bargain and wins then the world title chance is there.”

Hearn (right) also promotes unbeaten hot shot Frampton and would love to see the Commonwealth super-bantamweight champion stepping up in September for his long awaited clash with Martinez, whose Belfast promoter Pat Magee expects the fight to happen.

“As far as I’m concerned the fight is on. I’ve spoken to Matchroom and they know we want the fight and money will not be an issue,” said Magee.

Hearn, who has taken British boxing by storm with a series of big events, clearly views Belfast as a highly lucrative market and along with McCloskey and Frampton he wants the September super show to feature Jamie Conlan and Martin Lindsay in title fights, while there is also a carrot on the table for the winner of the all-Irish Prizefighter event on Saturday night.

While Conlan has withdrawn from Saturday night’s show, former British featherweight champion Lindsay should pick up a second win within a month when he faces Mickey Coveney.

“I’m looking to make it a really big show in September and the winner of the Prizefighter on Saturday night can expect to be in a big fight in September, maybe a British title eliminator,” revealed Hearn.

While the primary target for McCloskey is the WBC crown, Hearn accepted that the mooted showdown with Juan Manuel Marquez on July 14 in Texas could turn into a reality, though at the moment it remains up in the air.

“I’ve spoken to Marquez’s people and they’ve said they’ll be keeping an eye on how things go in Belfast but it’s hard to know just where they are at,” added Hearn, who knows that a clash with Marquez could earn McCloskey the biggest purse of his career.

“I think we have to stay focused on Saturday night because Corley is no mug and if Paul was to go to Texas the figures would have to add up.

“If the right money came along there’s no way I would stand in Paul’s way because I know how much he wants the fight. But it would have to make financial sense because we know the WBC title is a live option.”

The King’s Hall is already close to a sell-out on Saturday night and McCloskey knows even bigger nights can follow if he can turn back the challenge of American Corley.

Belfast Telegraph

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