Ready and Waiting!

PAUL McCLOSKEY's managerial advisor has accused WBA World light-welterweight champion, Amir Khan, of 'running scared' after it emerged that talks over the proposed world title showdown were on the brink of collapse.

The undefeated European champion's father-in-law and manager, Mr. Francie McNicholl, has been immersed in negotiations with Khan's father, Shah and has been working closely with Matchroom Promotions about making the proposed world title fight a reality at Manchester's MEN Arena next April.

However, the Dungiven businessman has revealed that the mouthwatering Ireland v. England clash is in real danger of 'slipping away' as they have failed to reach an agreement over McCloskey's share of the purse and, indeed. several clauses demanded by Khan's management team.

Mr. McNicholl branded the figures offered by the Khan/Golden Boy Promotions team an 'insult' and was determined not to back down having offered what he felt were reasonable demands.

While it was reported that the only stumbling block in the negotiations was the approval of US TV company HBO and Sky Sports, who hold the rights to broadcast the bout, dubbed 'Khan's homecoming fight' on pay-per-view on April 16th, it has since emerged that 'Team Khan' have refused to accept the demands from McCloskey's camp.

Mr. McNicholl insists that the terms put on the table were not excessive and that he was surprised that the Bolton boxer's management team had refused to accept what he considered to be their 'bottom line.'

"Amir's father Shah phoned me last night but Khan's team are very difficult to work with," claimed Mr McNicholl.

"They're not prepared to meet our demands, they're not prepared to give us what we want. We feel our demands are reasonable, but they're not prepared to move on it.

"It's probably slipping away to be honest," he added. "Barry Hearns (Matchroom Chairman) is still in talks with them. We want them to stop wasting our time. Tell us is it for real?, Do you want the fight or not? And here's our terms if you want it to happen.

"Our demands are very reasonable. We could have looked for a lot more, but we would love nothing more than for Paul to fight Khan and he is very confident he can beat him.

"It's not our doing, it's not our fault if this dosen't happen. Their figures are an insult. His family call the shots, but they can't have their cake and eat it, they have to share it around."

While Khan had initially instigated discussions about the possibility of meeting McCloskey, ranked No. 5 by the WBA, following the breakdown in negotiations with American Lamont Peterson, Mr. McNicholl believes that Khan may have overlooked 'Dudey's' ability and is now concerned the Dungiven southpaw could cause a major upset.

Additional Clauses?

It is also understood that Khan's representatives have demanded a number of clauses which would be put in place should Khan lose the fight, one of those terms would tie McCloskey to the Khan/Golden Boy Promotions label, a clause which was instantly dismissed by McCloskey's advisors.

"At the minute they're not prepared to pay the money. They're running scared. They thought initially that it would be an easy pay day for Khan but have come to realise that Paul isn't an easy option. They're telling us that they have everything to lose and that we have everything to gain.

"If it falls through they will go with the line that Paul didn't have the profile for Sky or HBO, I've no doubt about that. But Barry Hearn spoke to the head of Sky Sports and alerted him as to what has been going on.

"Khan wants someone who he'll beat easily and it will end up being a disappointment on pay-per-view like the Hayev. Harrison fight."

McCloskey's team have not given up on the possibility of agreeing terms and Mr. McNicholl will travel to London today (Tuesday) ahead of a meeting with Matchroom Promotions tomorrow evening where a decision must be finalised.

"I'm not ruling the Khan fight out just yet," said McNicholl. "I'm flying over to London and I'm meeting with Matchroom on Wednesday and we'll hope to have it finalised.

"They have since softened the tone and while it's looking very doubtful, things can change. It's a volatile situation. Sky could turn around and demand the fight. They will give us an answer by Wednesday dinner time and we hope to finally have it resolved by then."

If talks break down completely, McNicholl is confident that they can find alternative avenues to secure a world title shot for the talented Dungiven man.

"We're not losing hope of Paul getting a world title fight. There are other options for him out there. There may well be an opportunity for him after the outcome of the WBC Devon Alexander and Timothy Bradley unification fight at the end of the month. There's also talk of the WBA creating another division, a super-welterweight division which would involve Amir Khan and require him to relinquish his WBA light-welterweight belt.

"That would give Paul the opportunity to fight for the vacant WBA title and there's still the European title. That date of the March 5th (against Michele Di Rocco) will have to be changed because it's too soon so that won't happen. If it's necessary to fight Di Rocco then that will happen late in March," he concluded.