It Khan happen!

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PAUL McCLOSKEY is edging closer to sealing a career-defining world title fight with WBA champion, Amir Khan, after the Bolton boxer’s promoter offered an improved package last night.

SIMON COLLINS reports

The European champion’s manager, Mr. Francie McNicholl, who has been heavily involved in talks with Khan’s US based promotions team, Golden Boy and his father Shah, has revealed the deal has been resurrected as Khan was now prepared to offer enhanced terms to make the fight at the MEN Arena, Manchester on April 16th a reality.

Mr. McNicholl and Matchroom Sports, who have represented the Dungiven southpaw in the ongoing dispute, sent ‘Team Khan’ four demands last Friday, understood to have involved ways of improving McCloskey’s share of the purse which needed to be resolved if the fight was to get the green light.

Having ‘softened their tone’ substantially over the last few days, it’s now understood Golden Boy are preparing a more attractive offer for McCloskey and if those terms are deemed acceptable by ‘Dudey’s’ team and the 31 year-old Dungiven man is willing to put pen-to-paper on the re-negotiated contract, then preparations for the fight will get underway immediately.

It was reported that Khan was on the verge of agreeing to fight EBU lightweight champion, John Murray (30-0) as McCloskey’s chances of sealing the deal appeared to be diminishing rapidly, however, following this latest development in the ongoing negotiations, ‘Dudey’ appears to be reinstalled as favourite to challenge the Olympic silver medalist for his WBA strap.

Following a meeting with Matchroom Sports yesterday afternoon, it’s understood that Sky Sports have approved the pay-per-view potential of the fight and are keen to tie the undefeated McCloskey to the April 16th date, forcing Khan’s team to act swiftly.

Khan’s camp reportedly offered ‘Dudey’ three times the sum of money he earned in his last fight against Barry Morrison at the Aura Leisure Centre Letterkenny, yet Matchroom Chairman, Barry Hearn flatly rejected the deal, adding the fight was now ‘dead’ and suggested he would not go back to re-negotiate.

Promising

Mr. McNicholl, however, has since insisted that they have re-engaged in talks and that the possibility of securing the fight is much more promising. And he has promised to scrutinise any deal to ensure his fighter gets the best possible terms before signing a contract.

“I spoke to Khan’s father Shah again on Friday last and I told him we had four points to be discussed in the negotiations. They had initially told us we had to take or leave their offer, but things look a lot more promising now.

“We understand they are preparing to offer us better terms and we’ll make sure they’re right for Paul before we sign any contracts. That’s where we are at the minute.”

WBA champion, Khan, recently reinforced his desire to fight McCloskey and warned the talented southpaw not to miss out on his chance for a lucrative battle for the WBA light-welterweight title.

“The offer I made to Paul McCloskey is the biggest he is getting in any of his fights,” said Khan. “If he doesn’t want to take the offer, there are plenty of other fighters who will.

“Everyone knows I want to fight McCloskey and everyone knows I would beat him. I’m willing to give him the biggest purse of his boxing career so why not take the fight?

“I’m going to fight my next fight in Manchester on April 16th, I’ve had two fights in America and now it’s time to come home. I’m looking at two fights, one is Paul McCloskey and one is Lamont Peterson. Both are top 10 fighters and I’m willing to put my title on the line to fight them.”

Whether or not this latest offer meets McCloskey’s demands remains to be seen, however, both sides will look for a quick conclusion with the April 16th date looming large on the horizon.

Victor Ortiz and Michael Katsidis are two other names being mooted alongside McCloskey and Murray, but neither are likely to accept an offer lower than what ‘Dudey’ is seeking.

Breidis Prescott, the only man to defeat Khan, has also called out the WBA champion but there have been no formal negotiations and the Bolton man’s camp may not be willing to go down that avenue again.