Belfast Telegraph

McCloskey set to sparkle

By David Kelly

It's a special night for Paul McCloskey which demands a performance to match and Northern Ireland’s unbeaten champion believes he is ready.

Giuseppe Lauri rolled into town yesterday and when asked what impressed him about the European light-welterweight champion, quipped “he has beautiful eyes!”

McCloskey plans to look into the whites of the Italian’s eyes and then let him feel the full force of his electric skills at the King’s Hall tomorrow evening.

The Dungiven man has had a slow burning career but now believes it is going to catch fire on the iconic stage, where the legends of Irish boxing have all made their mark.

McCloskey turned professional with John Breen five years ago and now feels that the public will see the best he has to offer.

“My boxing has developed a lot over recent years, I have changed a lot and matured as a fighter and now I’m the complete fighter,” said McCloskey.

“When I was an amateur I was very much a boxer and when I want to be I can just be a boxer in the ring, do my stuff from the outside.

“But being with John I have learned to fight at close range, my body shots have really developed and I just feel that whatever I have to face in the ring I will be ready for it.

“There’s not a fighter on the planet that I would worry about boxing. I have developed my game to the point where I am ready for anyone.

“People talk to me about a World title fight and I would say that I am ready right now for that but it’s a case of the opportunity coming along.

“Any sportsman comes to a point that he is at his peak and I feel that I’m at that stage now.

“It’s a great place the King’s Hall and it’s my moment to show the public what I’ve got. They seem to like my style, the way I go about things in the ring and I want to go out and do the business.”

McCloskey has made sure that any recent problems with his back are not going to be an issue when it comes to tangling with former European title challenger and current mandatory challenger Lauri.

Acupuncture and regular physio has helped him get into “the best shape of my life” for his meeting with Lauri, who arrived clearly feeling very confident but with a record that suggests he will once again come up short — as he has done in the past.

Meanwhile, Brian Magee has withdrawn from the purse bids for his proposed British super-middleweight title clash with Paul Smith.

European champion Magee was expected to clash with British champion Smith but the Belfast man’s manager Pat Magee decided that he wanted to take his fighter in a different direction.

Smith’s promoter Frank Warren said: “We are trying to make the big fights the fans want to see, but it's a big let-down when after months of negotiating leads to nothing it heads to purse bids and then they pull out on the day.

“Paul's already beaten Dodson and Quigley so Magee would have been a good name to add to his record.”

Belfast Telegraph

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