Hearn demands rematch as BBBC launches investigation into ‘farce’

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MATCHROOM SPORTS Chairman, Barry Hearn has promised to leave no stone unturned in his pursuit of justice for Paul McCloskey who, he claimed, was robbed of the chance to become WBA light-welterweight champion of the world last Saturday night.

SIMON COLLINS reports

As the dust begins to settle on Saturday’s controversial technical decision loss to Amir Khan at the M.E.N Arena, Hearn is determined to secure a lucrative rematch for the disheartened Dungiven southpaw who saw his world title dreams come crashing down.

The Londoner had to be restrained from approaching Peurto Rican referee, Luis Pabon, following the sixth round, cut-prompted stoppage, and later appealed to Khan’s better nature to give McCloskey a second chance.

Hearn confirmed that the British Boxing Board of Control had immediately launched a full and thorough investigation with the World Boxing Association about the baffling, premature end to the fight and lambasted the decision of the referee and ringside physician, Phil Sahu as ‘shameful’ and ‘embarrassing.’

The Matchroom chairman claimed a rematch would be commercially lucrative and benefit Khan’s profile in the sport, however, the fact that it was a voluntary defence, would tend to suggest that ‘Dudey’ has only a marginal chance of having a rematch decision enforced.

“I think Amir Khan is losing a tremendous opportunity here, he’s not the most popular fighter in this country without a doubt,” said Hearn. “I think he has a fantastic chance to rebuild himself now. I think if he stood up and said, ”You know what?, fair dos, he’s a fellow boxer, I’ll give him an other shot.

“Even if he says he’ll box (Timothy) Bradley first and then Paul but make a commitment to the British people that would say ‘This is not how I want to win!’ I think people would respect that about Amir Khan.

“All we want is common decency and fair play, it’s not too much to ask for. We know boxing is a messy, dirty business. We know it’s a brutal business but fighters rise above that and the fighters themselves deserve better.

“I really believe that Amir would do unbelievable service if he actually turned around and said “That’s a really unfortunate stoppage, I don’t want to win like that”.

“If he thinks he could knock him out in two more rounds, he’s entitled to his opinion, he was in front, definitely, no question, then knock him out in two more rounds, let’s do it again, do the job probably.

“Of course I’m biased, but I’m trying to be dispassionate here because I’m not so involved as I used to, I live in a dream factory for sports men across a whole range of sports and the one thing you can’t ever do is take kids’ dreams away, that’s just not on.

“And I think this did that, and I think Amir Khan is a loser by it as well because he’s just not going to be popular in this country. Frankly people don’t like that.”

Hearns, who has been in the boxing game for 25 years, insisted he had never witnessed a fight stopped for such an innocuous cut.

“I’ve seen thousands of fights and I’ve never in my life seen a fight stopped for such an innocuous cut, especially bearing in mind it’s a world title fight,” he claimed.

“The referee has bags of experience, I don’t know about the doctor, I don’t know why he was called in quite frankly.

“The ultimate responsibility is the referee’s. This referee has done 40 or 50 world title fights. I’ve seen other fights he’s refereed with far more significant cuts that have been allowed to box on.

“Five thousand fans came over from Ireland, they paid their expenses, they bought their tickets and they were robbed. This type of decision can’t be allowed to stand.”