Khan-McCloskey Tonight: Big Underdog “Dudey” Says He’ll Keep His Day Job After He’s Won

By James Slater: The weights are in, and both Amir Khan, the defending WBA 140-pound champion, and challenger Paul McCloskey tipped-in at the same: 139-pounds exactly. Set to rumble in Manchester in a matter of hours, the unbeaten challenger and the once-beaten champion will be going at it in front of a healthy live audience but, due to Team-Khan’s last minute decision to switch from Sky Sports to the less-viewed Prime Time network, there will be far less armchair fans watching the contest.

Some see Khan’s decision to “abandon” Sky (who, after all, stuck with the 24-year-old and supported his rebuild after he has destroyed by Breidis Prescott almost two years ago) as a greedy, selfish move; while others agree with a Khan who was unwilling to fight “for free” and take a pay cut close to a £million. In any case, U.K fans who have access to Prime Time will now have to pay £15.00 to see the fight that, at one time, looked like being shown for free on Sky Sports 3.

Is tonight’s fight worth paying for?

A huge underdog in the eyes of the bookmakers, 31-year-old southpaw McCloskey is nevertheless extremely confident going into his first world title challenge. Speaking with RTE Sport recently, the European champion known as “Dudey” went as far as to say how he will not change after he wins the WBA belt. Promising to remain humble and true to his roots, McCloskey, 22-0(12) says he will keep his day job after picking up gold tonight.

“I won’t change my life for anything and when I win this title I’ll still work and manage the shop,” McCloskey said, referring to the shop he manages in his native Dungiven.

The challenger also spoke of how he has, for the first time ahead of a fight, left home to train. McCloskey also hired a personal chef as well as a conditioner for tonight’s big one.

“I’ve done a complete 360 degree turn with my camp to ensure I win this fight and we’ll see it on Saturday,” he said.

And, as fans know, any unbeaten, confident and well-trained fighter is a dangerous fighter. Fellow Irishman and former world ruler Barry McGuigan has tipped McCloskey to pull it off tonight, and a number of other good judges have expressed how the older man cannot afford to be underestimated. But can the 8-1 underdog get the upset victory?

For what it’s worth, I don’t see McCloskey winning - even if he is a decent banger, and even though some people still have concerns over Khan’s chin. In what I feel will be a short, explosive fight, McCloskey will not be allowed to get into the second half of the fight, where his best chance would come, what with Khan possibly tiring and slowing down a little and McCloskey able to turn the fight into a battle of attrition. I see Khan, angry over the pay cut he has had to take (he is back on Pay-Per-View, but how many people will pay to see the fight on Prime Time? Certainly not as many as would have paid had the fight been on Sky), coming out smoking, looking to blast his man out.

With his blinding speed and genuine power, Khan might well be able to do just that against the slow-starting challenger. Of course, an overly aggressive Khan could walk onto something, but I think he will keep his chin tucked in as he lashes out with laser-fast shots to the chin and body.

While McCloskey is tough - as well as extremely popular, with most fans on his side - I wouldn’t be too surprised if he was taken out in the opening round. The last time “King Khan” fought in the U.K, he blasted out Dmitriy Salita in just over a minute. McCloskey may be better, and more durable than Salita, but he could suffer a similar fate.

I go for Khan, 24-1(17) to retain inside four-rounds.

Article posted on 17.04.2011

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