PAUL McCLOSKEY’S manager has accused Amir Khan of ‘stitching him up’ after the Dungiven man’s dream world title showdown with the WBA light-welterweight champion collapsed beyond repair last night.
SIMON COLLINS reports
Mr. Francie McNicholl insisted he had ‘exhausted all avenues’ and blamed the Bolton boxer’s unreasonable demands and attempts to get McCloskey ‘on the cheap’ for the breakdown in negotiations.
McCloskey and Khan had been making progress in their attempts to clash for Amir’s WBA light-welterweight belt at the MEN Arena on April 16th but with both parties failing to agree on terms for the fight, the 31 year-old will now turn his attention to his European defence in the Spring.
Mr. McNicholl explained that they had accommodated Khan’s derisory offer and had attempted to negotiate a way for McCloskey to enhance his earnings from the fight through ticket sales commission and pay-per-view revenue shares.
However, they received confirmation from Khan’s promoter yesterday that they were refusing to budge on their initial offer and pulled out of the talks.
“Things have taken a dive for the worse,” confirmed Mr McNicholl. “Initially they made us an offer and told us to take it or leave it. We subsequently re-opened negotiations and came back with what we felt were reasonable and fair conditions.
“We agreed to leave the purse as it was and came up with innovative ideas that would get Paul money from other sources, namely commission on tickets sales and pay-per-view sales. We thought we were being fair.
“Then we got talking about percentages and it got crazy. I had a lengthy conversation last night with Shah Khan but we just couldn’t get him to move on his offer. Our conditions were not acceptable to them.
“We gave them our bottom line, they’re not going to sell Paul short. We were prepared to take a risk on the ticket sales going up because of the Irish connection but that wasn’t acceptable to them.
“It’s frustrating because we came up with another easy route around the problem,” he continued. “As Barry Hearn said last week, “We’re not going to sell Paul short.”
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“But we’re poles apart. We were taking a risk, if the ticket sales didn’t go up then we weren’t getting paid. We were looking for commission on an uplift of ticket and pay-per-view sales.
“I’ve been working closely with Matchroom and they feel we’ve been extremely reasonable in our demands. This has been on and then off and then on again and it’s frustrating. We’re gutted about it but we’ve been left with no alternative.”
Matchroom Sport chairman Barry Hearn, who has represented ‘Dudey’ in the negotiations over the past fortnight, last night issued the following statement confirming ‘Team Khan’ and Golden Boy Promotions had refused to accept their demands.
“Amir Khan lives in America and wants to earn a living popping over here and underpaying British fighters,” said Hearn. “The deals placed on the table were an insult to Paul, an undefeated fighter and a European champion. Amir cannot fight himself, and I’m afraid you have to pay opponents to step in the ring with you, and pay them fairly.
“We have a huge fight lined up for Paul at King’s Hall in the spring and who knows, not long down the line he could face Amir as a world champion himself in a 50-50 split fight,” added Hearn.
McCloskey is now the second prospective challenger to be priced out by Khan following the breakdown of the Lamont Peterson fight last month and Mr. McNicholl has accused him of lacking respect for his fellow professionals.
“We’ve been stitched up,” said McNicholl. “We wanted this fight to happen but Khan should show a bit of respect for his fellow boxer. He’s had to climb of the ladder too. Amir might be world champion and the man everyone wants to pay to see fight but he has to fight someone, someone has to get into the ring with him and they need to get paid too.”
“Khan doesn’t seem to have great respect for other boxers. He’s had to struggle himself in his career so he shouldn’t rip his fellow boxers off. Is he going to be a boxer or a promoter and try and screw people out of a fair purse. He needs to show a bit of morality. Show a bit of respect for his fellow professionals.”