The Gloves are off as McCloskey splits from Matchroom

Matchroom Sport managing director, Eddie Hearn has parted company with Dungiven light-welterweight, Paul McCloskey.
Matchroom Sport managing director, Eddie Hearn has parted company with Dungiven light-welterweight, Paul McCloskey.

PAUL McCloskey’s manager claims Matchroom Sport have ‘spoiled’ the Dungiven boxer’s career!

The Essex based Sports Promotion company have represented McCloskey since his British light-welterweight title victory over Colin Lynes in 2008.

However, Matchroom yesterday confirmed to the ‘Journal’ they no longer represent the fighter which has led to an angry response from McCloskey’s manager and father-in-law, Mr Francie McNicholl.

The Dungiven businessman claims Matchroom are responsible for failing to deliver two potential world title opportunities which he had put on the table last year.

And McNicholl refuted claims from Matchroom’s Managing Director, Eddie Hearn who said he has presented Paul with plenty of opportunities to further his career, despite a 14 month absence from the ring prior to his devastating loss to Dave Ryan in Leeds last month.

“We presented every opportunity to him and we had some great nights,” Hearn said recently about McCloskey. “I wish him all the best in whatever he does but I think he’ll call it a day now.”

However, McNicholl hit back, explaining that Hearn denied McCloskey the chance to pursue two genuine avenues towards world title shots!

McNicholl claims that he failed to get any support from Hearn to seal a WBA Interim world title fight against Souleymane M’baye and an IBO welterweight title shot against Chris Van Heerden.

So the gloves are off in more than one sense and, while Matchroom ended its association with McCloskey following his victory over Manuel Perez in September 2012 according to a spokesperson for the company, McNicholl was last night surprised to hear they had severed all ties.

“Eddie (Hearn) has never told us that he has dropped Paul,” said McNicholl. “Although we never had any arrangement with Matchroom other than taking each fight as it comes.

“We had one contract with Matchroom for a six fight deal when he won the British title against Colin Lynes.

“Before the six fight deal was over the Amir Khan fight came into play,” he explained. “And we reserved the right to negotiate that ourselves.

“They seem to be washing their hands of Paul now but they haven’t informed us of that. We only talked to them about a fight when there was a particular fight to be had.”

Risen to brink of world level

McCloskey (now 34 years -old) had risen to the brink of world level under Eddie Hearn’s promotion, earning a WBA title shot against Amir Khan in 2011 and a European title in 2009.

Therefore, McNicholl was grateful for their support during those halcyon days but felt the company could’ve done more for ‘Dudey’ in 2013.

“Matchroom, it must be said, have treated us very, very well over the years but we’re just disappointed they didn’t do more when we came to them with those two offers.

“We went to Eddie with an opportunity to fight for the WBA Interim world title with the guarantee of a world title fight for the winner.

“They failed to secure that. Then we offered them another opportunity for Paul to fight for the WBO world welterweight title.

“Again Eddie wasn’t prepared to back that. He was telling us that Sky Sports wouldn’t support it because the IBO title wasn’t a worthy enough title and that he wasn’t coming back to Ireland because the support wasn’t there.

“But when you go and look at the figures you’ll see that the fights which took place in Belfast attracted much bigger figures than a lot of fights that Matchroom have been involved in over in England.

“Chris Van Heerden was prepared to come to Belfast last summer and money wasn’t an issue. We feel if Eddie had of promoted properly we would have got support for them., particularly the M’baye fight which was a very winnable fight for Paul.

“We had secured a WBA interim title fight against M’Baye and the winner would fight Khabib Allakhverdiev for the world title but Eddie wouldn’t support us.

“It spoiled Paul’s career,” he added. “It’s not over by any means but that was a major, major setback for him.

“We made those two offers to Eddie (Hearn) and he didn’t take them for whatever reasons and he never made us any offer other thanto fight Curtis Woodhouse.

“The Woodhouse fight wasn’t the right fight for Paul at that time,” he continued. “That fight was of no benefit to us at all. We were forced into a corner five months later when we decided to take the Dave Ryan fight.”

Former Matchroom client, Carl Frampton and his manager, Barry McGuigan were embroiled in a public falling-out with Matchroom last May before the Tiger’s Bay native joined Frank Warren’s stable and McNicholl believes McCloskey’s relationship with Matchroom has suffered as a result.

“While we were with Matchroom we had a great relationship,” said McNicholl. “We were treated exceptionally well. But it all completely changed after they had the fall-out with Barry McGuigan.

“Eddie Hearn shot down both of those fights we offered. Shortly after that we were made aware of the fall-out between Matchroom and McGuigan.”

Following McCloskey’s controversial defeat to relatively unknown Ryan in Yorkshire just before Christmas, the Dungiven man lost his position as mandatory challenger for the European light-welterweight title which he relinquished in 2011.

And with Hearn dominating the domestic boxing scene, McCloskey will now weigh up his options with the season about to kick into gear.

Frank Warren, Ricky Hatton and Barry McGuigan are promoters who are challenging Hearns dominance at present, therefore there remains plenty of options for the former world title challenger.