PAUL McCloskey’s hopes of sealing a second shot at the WBA world title early next year may be fading fast, but his manager insists he will deliver a ‘Box Office’ opponent before Christmas.
SIMON COLLINS reports
‘Dudey’s father-in-law and advisor, Francie McNicholl is working fervently behind the scenes alongside Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport in attempts to revitalise the chance of securing a world title shot for late February next year.
While negotiations with WBA champion, Marcos Maidana have broken down as the Argentine deliberates on moving up to welterweight, preliminary talks with Zab Judah have failed to get off the ground in the latest set-back for the Dungiven southpaw. However, ‘Dudey’s’ managerial team are pushing on with plans for a return to the ring early in the new year.
Indeed, the Odyssey Arena - the scene of the Co. Derry man’s WBA title eliminator victory over Breidis Prescott last September - has been provisionally booked for both February 18th and March 3rd next year.
And despite, Hearn’s promise to arrange a title shot in McCloskey’s next outing, a suitably appetising opponent has yet to be secured and while the options are seemingly running out rapidly, McNicholl is refusing to panic.
However, with New York’s Judah the latest to reject Matchroom’s advances, ‘Team McCloskey’ must look elsewhere in the WBA’s top five which includes Humberto Soto, Brunet Zamora and Alberto Mosquera - lesser known names but opponents which would no doubt attract a huge crowd to the Odyssey Arena.
“It does frustrate you a bit but you just have to keep plodding on,” said Nicholl. “Eventually we’ll get there, we’ll get something sorted. You narrow down your options as you keep on going and then there has to be a final option which we want to get sorted in the next couple of weeks.
“We’re obviously talking about someone in the top four in the WBA,” he continued. “When you look at that, Soto’s number one rated by the WBA and we’ve then got Zamora and Mosquera. Unfortunately Maidana is the champion, so leaving him aside that’s who we’re left with.
“The Zab Judah talks never stalled because they never really got started. He’s unsure about his future in the 140lb division as he struggles with the weight. We were speaking with his manager and it looks like he wouldn’t be interested in coming to Belfast at the present time. So he would seem to be out of the equation at the minute anyway.
“I wouldn’t say we’re running out of options, it’s more like we’re narrowing in on the options. Or if Maidana was to move up a division, we would like to think they (WBA) could sanction it to be for the vacant world title if that was the case.
“Our plan is to get it sorted before Christmas. Talks are still ongoing and we’re aiming for those dates we have booked the Odyssey for, but at the minute we have no opponent so we have to be patient and wait until something develops. I’m pretty confident we’ll be getting a result very, very soon,” concluded McNicholl.