Derry’s own John Duddy may be just one fight away from his dream of a world title bout against middleweight Kingpin Kelly Pavlik but he’s not the only Derryman eyeing World honours this year. Duddy’s former amateur team mate Paul McCloskey is creating a real stir of his own following an impressive 12 months that has seen him emerge from Duddy’s shadow to become a star in his own right..
McCloskey will look to cement his growing reputation and advance his own title aspirations when he tackles former World Champion, Cesar Bazan of Mexico on the next Hunky Dorys Fight Night, which takes place at the Letterkenny Leisure Complex on Saturday, March 29th. It will be McCloskey’s toughest test to date against the hard punching former champion who has swapped leather with the likes of Miguel Cotto, Jose Luis Castillo and Stevie Johnson.
Promoter Brian Peters is already eyeing up a world title challenge for McCloskey so it’s vital that the unbeaten southpaw does not slip up against the power punching Mexican warrior.
Peters said, “I’ve already had preliminary talks with Paulie Malignaggi’s promoter Lou DiBella about Paul challenging him for the world title. Malignaggi is the IBF champ while Paul is now the IBF International champion so he’s certainly going in the right direction for that fight. If Paul can keep impressing in the ring I’m sure it’s a fight we’ll be able to make at some point.
“Malignaggi is based out of New York with Italian heritage and obviously John Duddy has really built up a huge Irish following out there so I think a fight between Paul and Malignaggi would be a natural fight for New York.”
Trainer John Breen believes his charge is ready to take on Europe and the World. “I’ve been saying for years that Paul is our next world champion but nobody believed me. But when Barney Eastwood said the same thing recently that made people sit up and take notice. Trust me Paul is the real deal. Don’t get me wrong both John Duddy and Andy Lee are very good fighters but I believe Paul is a little bit special and he’ll prove that by wining a world title.”
First up though could be an assault on Europe. Breen and McCloskey were ringside in London last month to watch European champ Colin Lynes defend his European title against Juho Tolppola and McCloskey didn’t see anything to worry him.
“I thought he boxed well on the night and he impressed me to a degree,” said McCloskey “but I thought he should have stopped Tolppola if I’m honest. I fell I’m ready for a European title fight right now, all I need is the opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I respect Lynes in the same way that I respect any guy that I get in the ring with. The day you lose respect for your opponent is the day you lose yourself but I’m very confident that I can beat him and hopefully that’s a fight I can get at some point this year.”
McCloskey’s last win in Limerick earlier this month extended his perfect professional record to 15 and 0 following another clinical display against Mexican danger man Manuel Garnica. McCloskey dominated the 10 rounder from start to finish and hardly took a punch in anger all night despite facing a man who had wins over former world champs Carlos Maussa and Gabriel Ruelas.
Despite the plaudits he received after the fight McCloskey wasn’t completely happy with his own performance. “To be honest I felt a little sluggish in there and combined with the fact that I hurt my left hand early in the fight it meant I wasn’t entirely happy. Obviously it was good to get such a clear-cut win over a dangerous opponent like that but I suppose you’re always your own worst critic.
“I probably put on a little too much weight between the weigh in and the fight but you learn from all these little things. My hand isn’t 100% yet but it’s almost there and I’ve been doing a lot of conditioning work. I feel in great shape and I should be ready to start using the hand again next week.”
McCloskey admits he will need to be in the shape of his life for Bazan who has twice as many KO’s as McCloskey has had fights! “All the talk of titles is great but you can only take it one fight at a time and this guy is as tough as they come. He’s given the likes of Cotto, Castillo and Johnson all they can handle and he’s been in 5 world title fights so you have to give him all the respect in the world.
“You can’t afford to take your eye off the ball for a second with guys of this calibre because they’ll punish you. All it takes is one punch in this game for your career to be turned upside down but these are the kind of nights any fighter wants to be involved in.
“I have to hand it to Brian for giving me this opportunity. It will be great to headline my own show and so close to home as well. The way my career has stepped up a gear in the last 12 months has been amazing and I delighted to have the chance now to push on. To be honest I felt I was ready for this level of opposition a year ago but the pieces are falling into place now and hopefully this is just the start of anther big year for me.”
Promoter Brian Peters is delighted to be bringing big time pro boxing to Donegal. “It’s a county with a great boxing heritage and I’m delighted to be showcasing Paul so close to his home town. The Letterkenny Leisure Complex is a fantastic new facility, it’s state of the art and it should prove to be an excellent venue.”
The undercard for Letterkenny features former World title challenger and British champion, Neil Sinclair, rising welterweight Stephen Haughian and Cuban heavyweight sensation Mike “The Rebel” Perez.
Tyrone professional Damian Taggart also features alongside top amateur Luke Wilton from Belfast who will be making his pro debut.
Tickets for the Hunky Dorys Fight Night priced from €60 go on sale from 9am tomorrow morning (Friday, February 22nd) from Ticketmaster.ie and all usual outlets.