12 June 2010 – Steve Wellings
Paul McCloskey retained his European light-welterweight title in emphatic style on Friday night, blasting veteran Giuseppe Lauri to defeat in the eleventh-round of their Kings Hall clash.
The 30-year-old detonated a superb right hook to remove the plucky Italian from his senses, forcing French referee Robin Dolpierre to dispense with the academic count and call a halt to proceedings. Rather than using his classy southpaw skills and slashing hooks, McCloskey elected to stand in the trenches and trade for long periods with the rugged visitor, resulting in breaches of the rules from both parties.
Speaking in the changing rooms after a bruising encounter, the Dungiven man relived the finishing blow, Ive knocked out boys before, he said, but that was a great punch. I caught him right and his head hit the floor with a crack.
Indeed it did and as the medical team strapped oxygen to the stricken Lauri, there was a fleeting concern for his wellbeing at ringside before the 34-year-old rose sheepishly and licked his wounds in the away corner.
I got dragged into a fight, continued Paul. Im delighted to still be European champion and John [Breen] said that when I boxed I was brilliant. I can fight a bit though and I wouldnt blame the crowd but I did get dragged in. I didnt fight the right fight tonight but I got the job done.
It started out as a mixed bag for the champion, commanding centre ring to fire off his trademark combinations as Lauri plugged away in the southpaw stance. A left hand behind the ear dropped Giuseppe in the second-round but the referee saw it as a slip, before McCloskey suffered a small cut to the eyebrow after an ugly maul.
The bout swung back and forth as Paul took over in the fourth but conceded the fifth-round with Lauri landing more meaningful leather. The two exchanged a heated glare at the end of more than one session with tempers threatening to boil over.
McCloskey showed he was no shrinking violet, standing up to a man with an array of tattoos across his neck and skull. The crowd encouraged their man along as a nasty welt started to appear under his left eye and Lauri pulled him further into the trenches.
McCloskey had a point deducted in the tenth-round for an apparent headbutt and it would have been interesting to see how the judges were scoring matters. As it happened, the score totals were irrelevant as Dudey unleashed the all-important finisher and sent the Belfast crowd into raptures.
Talk will again resurface of a fight between the Euro king and multiple belt holders in the red hot light-welterweight division. Could a World title shot be on the horizon?
Thats the plan, its definitely my dream, McCloskey stated.
Amir Khans always in my sights and so are the other title holders.
It was a quality undercard in Belfast, so stay tuned to Irish-boxing.com for details on Carl Framptons impressive homecoming, Stephen Haughians Celtic title defeat and a good win for Ciaran Healy.