Boxing


McCloskey ready to take European title from M’baye

Twenty years on from the last Derry man to be crowned European Champ Paul McCloskey will bid to follow in Charlie Nash’s footsteps by winning a European title on home soil. Nash enjoyed home advantage for his 1979 European Lightweight title win over French man Andre Holyk and McCloskey will be hoping that history repeats itself when he looks to take the European Light Welterweight title off another French man, former World Champ, Souleymane M'baye when they clash in Magherafelt, County Derry on Friday, November 6th..

Nash enjoyed home advantage for his 1979 European Lightweight title win over French man Andre Holyk and McCloskey will be hoping that history repeats itself when helooks to take the European Light Welterweight title off another French man, former World Champ, Souleymane M'baye when they clash at the Magherafelt, County Derry on Friday, November 6th.

The state of the art Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt opened last year and is the largest indoor arena of it’s kind in Europe. With the venue under half an hour’s drive from McCloskey’s hometown of Dungiven it promises to be the perfect location for the 30-year-old’s bid for continental glory.

"I’ve been inundated with people asking about tickets and it’s terrific to get such a big fight so close to home,” said McCloskey who vacated his British title in order to chase European and World honours. The silky skilled southpaw had originally been scheduled to travel to Paris in July to tackle M’baye but a hand injury for McCloskey turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the Derry man secured home advantage for the rescheduled date.

“It’s a huge opportunity for me and winning the European title would set me up nicely for a shot at a World title. I’m just focusing on M’baye and becoming European Champion first. Once I win that then everything else will fall into place.”

McCloskey has plenty of respect for the 34-year-old champion who hails from just outside Paris and he admits taking the title off M’baye will be no easy task. “He’s very slick, durable and he can punch a bit himself,” said McCloskey. “There’s no doubt about it he’s a world class operator, you don’t win World titles without being world class. He’s only been beaten 3 times in 42 fights so you have to respect a record like that.”

McCloskey’s trainer John Breen is in no doubt that his charge will be crowned European Champion next month. “I’ve always said that Paul is World class so I’ve no worries about him fighting for the European title,” said Breen. “M’baye’s an excellent fighter and he’s been a World Champion himself and now he has the European title but I know what Paul’s capable of and M’baye won’t get near him. Every time Paul has stepped up a level in his career he’s handled it with ease and I’ve no doubt he’ll do the same this time around.”

Breen believes that a challenge for Amir Khan’s WBA World title could be just around the corner should McCloskey capture M’baye’s belt. “Khan is the obvious World title fight out there for Paul,” said Breen. “They both turned pro at around the same time and I’ve always believed that Paul has the beating of Khan and when he wins the European title I think he’ll finally get an opportunity to prove that.”

The undercard at the Meadowbank Sports Arena will also be packed with championship quality. Belfast’s British Featherweight Champion Martin Lindsay will get a chance to press his European title claims and add to his 14 fight perfect record. Liverpool’s Steve Williams and Londoner Michael Grant will contest the English Light Welterweight title in a second title bout on the card.

Fight fans will also get the opportunity to follow the progress of Barry McGuigan’s hot prospect, Carl Frampton. The 2009 Irish Senior Featherweight Champion turned pro in June and has already impressed in his two outings to date. Liverpool’s “Dangerous” John Donnelly will also be in action as he builds towards a shot at the British bantamweight title while further local interest will come in the shape of Omagh’s popular light welterweight Damian Taggart. The card is rounded out by the professional debut of hard hitting Belfast heavyweight, David Hannah.

The event will be live on Sky Sports and tickets priced £30, £60 and £90 are available from Ticketmaster, all usual outlets and the boxers on the bill. Contact Ticketmaster 0844 8472455 (0818 719300 from ROI), Box Office 01277 359900, Julie 07745698372, Emma 07703723074, Francie 07803282224 or Eurospar 02877741245.

Article posted on 16.10.2009



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