PAUL McCLOSKEY has just one obstacle to overcome before securing a second shot at the WBA world light-welterweight crown, but his trainer believes it’s his biggest problem yet!
SIMON COLLINS reports
The Dungiven southpaw is guaranteed a shot at the WBA strap which he’s craved since his controversial defeat to Amir Khan last April, should he dispatch of Breidis Prescott at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast tomorrow night. (Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8 p.m.)
Current WBA champion, Marcos Maidana is waiting in the wings and has already indicated in conversations with ‘Dudey’ on Twitter, that a clash with the Co. Derry man is one that can be made with ease.
However, before Matchroom Sports’ negotiations with the Argentine begin in earnest, McCloskey must solve the conundrum that is Prescott.
And while ‘Dudey’s trainer, John Breen, is wary of the threat posed by the big punching Colombian in the early rounds of tomorrow’s fascinating contest, he expects his man to have too much ring-craft for the one dimensional Prescott, if he manages to contain his power.
“I’m more worried about Prescott than I was about Khan, obviously because of his punching power,” said Breen. “He puts everything into his punches and then has nothing left by the fourth or fifth round and if he does that with McCloskey, then happy days.
“We’ve sat down and watched the last six or seven fights that Prescott’s had. Kevin Mitchell beat him on points and Kevin told me that he can bang but he’s trying to box now as well.
“So he might come out and try and out-box Paul for a couple of rounds but Paul’s a better boxer so he’ll resort back to throwing big punches again and that will suit us even better.”
Both boxers came face-to-face for the first time at yesterday afternoon’s pre-fight Press Conference at Belfast’s Hilton Hotel and while McCloskey concedes two inches in height to the man from Barranquilla who boasts 19 KO wins from 26 pro fights, Breen believes his fighter is the more complete boxer.
Prescott has tried his damndest in the build-up to tomorrow’s fight to goad ‘Dudey’ into losing his composure, stating he will put McCloskey “to sleep”. However, Breen has warned that ‘Dudey’ packs a powerful punch himself and he wouldn’t be surprised to see Prescott on the canvas.
Breen recalled the only time in McCloskey’s professional career where he was knocked to the floor - against Chill John in Cork in 2007 - but he quickly recovered and the Belfast trainer claims it will take one hell of a punch to keep ‘Dudey’ down.
“Paul doesn’t have to prove to anyone that he’s got a good chin,” added Breen. “I know he’s got a good chin, I just don’t want him to get hit too often on it. Paul’s won 12 out of his 23 contests by knock-out and he’s punching twice as hard now as he did when he just turned professional.
“Since he’s taken his strength and conditioning coach on board, I can see a huge difference in his body strength. He’s very strong and getting stronger every day.
“Neil Sinclair was the hardest puncher, pound-for-pound that I ever trained and Paul McCloskey has sparred both him and Eamon Magee and none of them ever hurt him.
“Prescott is telling everyone that will listen that he’ll knock McCloskey out inside six rounds but we’ll see. Paul has got a great chin. He was put down once by a flash knockdown in Cork one night and he jumped straight back up five seconds later because he was just caught off guard.
“Prescott throws big punches and punches down on top of your head whereas Paul bobs and weaves. The only thing is that he could hit you on the back of the neck or the side of the head and do damage but Paul has a strong chin and I’m not worried about him being hit.
“Paul’s not stupid, he’s a smart kid. We’ll see what Prescott brings to the table but if he wants to go in and out box him, he’s in for a shock. Paul’s out-boxed better boxers than Prescott, he’s sparred harder punchers than Prescott, so it won’t be a problem.
“He’s saying he’s going to knock Paul out in six rounds so maybe he’s trained a bit harder for this one but I won’t be surprised if Paul stops him because he’s punching very hard.”
Second bite of Cherry
Breen is of the opinion that a rematch with Amir Khan is an option the Bolton man would be keen to avoid and he believes, should ‘Dudey’ overcome Prescott tomorrow night, Marcos Maidana would be the easiest route to claiming that elusive world title.
“If Paul wins this fight, his next fight is against Marcos Maidana,” explained Breen. “If I was Amir Khan I wouldn’t want to fight Paul McCloskey again.
“If Paul McCloskey goes out and does the job which Amir Khan couldn’t do and beat Prescott, what’s Khan going to say to that? Khan will have one more fight at light-welterweight and then he’ll move on to welterweight.
“I’m sure the public would want to see a rematch with Khan but Khan doesn’t worry too much about what the public want. If I was Amir Khan I would want to stay clear of Paul McCloskey.
“If Paul wins this fight his next fight is for a world title. He’ll fight Maidana for the world title and I think Maidana would be an easier fight than this one.
“Maidana has no foot-work, he just stalks you and throws big punches from odd angles and he wouldn’t be able to deal with Paul. But we’ll get this one over first and then we’ll concentrate on Maidana,” he concluded.