McCloskey’s Euro title bid looms
Published 22/01/2009 | 12:35
British champion Paul McCloskey's bid for the European title is set to happen before the end of April.
European light-welterweight champion Gianluca Branco has been matched to face Junior Witter in Italy after his promoters won the purse bids. But Witter is now certain to face Devon Alexander for the WBC interim title on April 4 – effectively a world title eliminator.
As No 1 contender, McCloskey will then step in to face Branco whose manager Christian Cherchi now expects the unbeaten Dungiven man to be the champion's next challenger.
Cherchi said: "I would expect Witter to fight for the WBC interim title because it's a bigger fight. We will fight McCloskey and there will have to be new purse bids.
"You never know in boxing from one day to the next but we'll be setting a date for Branco-Witter for the end of March because the fight has to happen in 60 days.
"Once Witter decides to pull out then we'll have 90 days to make the McCloskey fight."
It had been mooted that Italian Branco could find himself in a world title fight rather than make a mandatory defence of his European title but Cherchi dismissed that.
He added: "Branco will not fight for a World title so he will defend his European title. We'll see what happens very shortly."
Manager and coach John Breen has no concern about McCloskey jumping from British title level to a shot at the European belt.
Breen said: "We're expecting Witter to box for the interim title and then Paul will get his chance and I think it's coming at just the right time for Paul.
"Because Paul is the No 1 challenger the fight has to go to purse bids and that means we have a chance of bringing the fight to Belfast.
"But even if the fight has to go to Italy, that wouldn't be of any concern for myself or Paul. Paul is buzzing because he's now the No 1 challenger and he's very confident of beating Paul wherever the fight is – even if it's in his own back yard. We were expecting Paul to make a defence of his British title but if this comes along we'll grab it."
Branco's promoters OPI2000 have already shown their financial muscle by outbidding Mick Hennessey for the right to stage Branco-Witter and they would be favourites to win the bids for Branco-McCloskey.