Fighting Back!

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PAUL “Dudey” McCloskey got his career back on track following what was an easier than expected victory over American, Manuel Perez in the Odyssey Arena on Saturday night.

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

Boxing in the main support bout to the Carl Frampto v. Steve Molitor Commonwealth and IBF Inter-Continental super bantamweight title fight, McCloskey had to go the 12 rounds to comfortably see off his American challenger.

And having claimed the new W.B.A. Light Welterweight Inter-Continental title, the 33-year-old Dungiven man will not take too much satisfaction from his overall performance, but he was delighted with the workmanlike victory nonetheless.

That said, “Dudey” had claimed that if he needed to, he could fight ugly if necessary and while it wasn’t a stunning performance, it was a convincing victory.

Securing a unanimous decision by 118-110, 118-111 and 118-112, McCloskey bossed the bout from the outset with Perez appearing to be unsure of himself on occasions.

In fact, as the fight progressed with McCloskey winning the opening six rounds in the 12 rounds event, one began to question the ability of the highly rated American.

With “Dudey” clearly throwing the better punches and Perez prepared to keep up his guard, McCloskey’s excellent use of the ring saw him regularly pick of his opponent with scoring jabs.

And having put those early points into the bank, McCloskey was clearly on his way to sparking life back into his career as he had taken Perez’ best punches without undue difficulty.

That said, the long this went on the more cocky McCloskey became and that career-long habit of dropping his arms began to frustrate not only his corner but also his fans.

Worrying Lifetime

Habit?

Indeed, another opponent with a punch could and would have punished him for such antics but, as former world lightweight champion, Jim Watt, suggested at ringside, it’s a habit the Dungiven man has and, at this stage of his career, he’s not going to change.

Opting to avoid a toe-to-toe brawl, McCloskey cruised home and the large attendance certainly got behind him and appreciated what was a very important victory for him.

Commenting afterwards, “Dudey” believes he is still capable of winning a world title, an ambition he has harboured since his youth.

He had received no shortage of criticism following his shock TKO defeat by Demarcus Corley in the King’s Hall last May and that came after his highly controversial defeat by Amir Khan, losing that fight on a cut-eye decision.

“I received a lot of stick in the media after the Demarcus Corley defeat,” declared McCloskey after Saturday night’s fight.

“So it was important that I bounced back with a good win. This guy (Perez) is ranked in the top 10 of the WBA so I wanted to get this fight on as quickly as possible just to see exactly where I am at.

“I felt good during the fight and I felt I won it comfortably. I would also agree that it wasn’t my best performance, but I have always believed in being critical of myself.”

Balance Redressed

Did he feel that he had redressed the balance following last May’s defeat in the King’s Hall?

“I could have made all the excuses in the world that night because afterwards the defeat proved to be a massive shock to me, it was a massive kick in the teeth as far as my career was concerned.

“After that fight, people felt I was past it but for me it was one bad night in seven and a half years of boxing. It was a bad night for me as things just didn’t go my way.”

Commenting on his well publicised defeat by Amir Khan, “Dudey” felt that result was “a different story.”

He explained: “That decision came down to a cut eye and while I felt the fight should not have been stopped, the referee felt otherwise. But I’ve put that behind me, that’s all in the past and I feeI have to move on.

“I had to dig keep in an effort to rebuild my career and, thankfully, with a good team and a good family around me, I believe I’ve managed to do that.”

Could he still become a world champion?

He answered: “When I’m at my best I believe I can beat anybody, that’s the way I feel and if I didn’t feel like that, I don’t believe I would be in this business.

“Boxing is a tough game and it’s a very dangerous game, but I have a lot of faith in myself and I certainly believe in ability.

“Hopefully, this win will move it along and, fingers crossed, I can get a another shot at a world title before long,” he concluded.