RESPECTED Panamanian coach, Bernardo Checa is set to join forces with Paul McCloskey following the Dungiven southpaw’s shock split from long-term trainer, John Breen.
SIMON COLLINS reports
Following a highly successful eight year partnership with the Belfast man, McCloskey took the ‘heart-wrenching’ decision to finally part ways this week.
And ‘Dudey’ - who is provisionally scheduled to return to the ring in February - has wasted no time in securing a replacement as he’s expected to confirm experienced, Carrickfergus based trainer, Checa as his new cornerman in the next few days.
Interestingly, Checa has worked alongside Breen during the glory days of the Barney Eastwood gym in the 1980s, and has guided Brian Magee to a shot at the WBA Super-middleweight World Championship against Mikkell Kessler in Denmark next month.
Confirming the split from the ‘Breen Team’ last night, Dudey’s manager and father-in-law, Francie McNicholl refuted claims that Breen was notified about the split via text message, and insisted he had personally informed the Belfast trainer six weeks ago that McCloskey was contemplating a move away from the Central Belfast gym.
Breen, who guided ‘Dudey’ to British, European and most recently WBA inter-continental titles since turning professional in 2004, has said he has been ‘saddened and ‘bewildered’ by the development.
However, McNicholl explained that the change was a decision which didn’t come easy for the light-welterweight and was prompted by Breen’s lack of confidence in McCloskey’s ability.
“The only reason for the delay which has John ‘mystified’, is that it was a very hard decision for Paul to make because of the history they have between themselves,” revealed McNicholl.
“It was a heart-wrenching decision he had to make and it has troubled him for the last six weeks,” he added. “I was talking to Paul about it on a daily basis and told him to hold back and not make any quick decisions.
“John (Breen) then text Paul to ask him how things were going and at that point I advised Paul to make the decision. And a text was then sent to John to explain.
“I actually met with John a few days after the fight and explained the whole situation with him so he was totally aware of what was happening.
“I won’t go into detail but I told him Paul was very annoyed about some things that had happened and needed some time out to decide what the future would be.
“I made John fully aware of all the issues that we had. He’s coming out now and saying that he’s mystified and shocked and he shouldn’t be.
“We would prefer not to go into the details of what happened around the fight. It was nothing to do with preparation or training but there were other issues which weren’t satisfactory.
“It was other issues and we questioned his sincerity with regards to his confidence in Paul. We felt he had a lack of confidence in Paul.”
Despite the shock separation, McNicholl insists McCloskey still has the utmost respect for Breen.
“Paul did send him a text to thank him for the past and he wished him well,” continued McNicholl. “We had no grievance with John and we wished to keep this low key.
“Paul has nothing but respect for John Breen in regards to his training mechanism and he’s always had respect for John.
“It is a very hard decision for him to take and took a lot of time but he felt he couldn’t go any other way.”
As he turns to a new chapter in his career, McCloskey will team up with former professional Super Bantamweight, Checa as early as next week.
“We met with him (Checa) a couple of days ago and agreed that he would come on board from here on through,” confirmed McNicholl.
“Bernardo has done a very good job with Brian Magee, he’s a very experienced trainer and Paul has worked with him in the past on a short term basis when he was an amateur. “
“He’s already back in the gym but he’ll start training next week with Bernardo. We’re hoping that will be the change which will help things along.”