Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Paul McCloskey bringing army of fans to Amir Khan duel

European titleholder Paul McCloskey and World champion Amir Khan square up at yesterday's press conference in Manchester

Paul McCloskey must have felt like a character out of an Albert Camus novel as he listened to Ricky Hatton eulogise Amir Khan.

One of the French author and philosopher’s finest works was ‘The Outsider’ and McCloskey was cast in that role yesterday as Hatton officially announced WBA World light-welterweight champion Khan’s April 16 defence against the European champion at the MEN Arena in Manchester.

For former world champion Hatton, who is promoting the Sky Box Office showdown, it was all about the golden future of Khan.

“Since losing to Breidis Prescott in 2008 he's turned his career around and more,” said Hatton. “He's not sat back on his laurels, he's gone from strength to strength.

“If he continues ticking all the boxes and progressing and improving as he is, I don't think it will be long before he's on top of that pound-for-pound list.

“I really do strongly believe that.”

Hatton added: “When you see the story of where Amir's come from in his career it is a massive success story.

“He was written off in many ways and how he has rammed it down his critics' throats by turning his career around is a credit to him.

“British boxing fans should be very proud of him. He moved up a weight division immediately after that defeat and then won a world title at the weight above.

“He's made from the same cloth as me. I'd like to think my fan base was not just because of the boxing ability I had but because I was a bit no-nonsense and die-hard, I took on all comers, and since Amir's defeat, that's exactly what he's done.”

McCloskey is adamant that he will be no bit part player in this drama and expects an army of fans to descend on Manchester. Indeed, flights on April 16 between Belfast and Manchester are already almost booked out.

McCloskey said: “I think I’ll have about 5,000 fans going over to support, they’ll make themselves heard alright.

“I know that I have the ability to beat Amir Khan. The hype has started to build up but I’m very relaxed about it all.

“I’m sure some guys would get a bit intimidated by such a big fight but I know what I have to do and we’re already planning the best preparation possible.

“It sounds like they’re taking me lightly and if that’s the case, great.

“Amir has improved dramatically and proved in his last fight against Marcos Maidana the heart he has. That fight was amazing to watch.

“It will be the biggest night of my life.”

l Tickets: £300, £200, £125, £75, £50 and £40 can be purchased at the M.E.N. Arena Box Office, by calling 08448478000 or online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk or www.men-arena.com.

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