10 November 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Paul McCloskey is Irish boxings man of the moment.
30 years old, unbeaten in 20 contests and now the European light-welterweight champion.
It seems comical that only a year and a half ago McCloskey was labelled the most overprotected light-welterweight in the world by Ring Magazine. Time has told us that McCloskey was not being protected, rather avoided. This is something that the new champion is happy to say is no longer the case.
“Ive put myself in a position where people have to fight me, which is great,” he told irish-boxing.com.
Top of McCloskeys wish list is WBA champion Amir Khan.
“Of course I would want Amir Khan,” he beamed after knocking out Daniel Rasilla in Magherafelt.
“Obviously there are some brilliant fighters out there but with the right preparation I will fight any of them. I could do a couple of defences but I wont let an opportunity pass me.”
More than likely McCloskey will defend his title a number of times the first of which looks likely to take place at Belfasts Kings Hall early in the New Year. Euro defences will foster a fanbae, provide valuable experience and secure a solid ranking ensuring that the big boys have to square off against Dungivens finest.
Notably, McCloskeys elevation to European kingpin came 30 years after fellow Derryman Charlie Nash held the title.
“I went for dinner with him last Christmas after I won the British title and he told me that,” McCloskey beamed. “It is quite something to think that it has taken so long for another Derryman to win the European title again.”
That said, in recent times there has been a flood of Irish boxers claiming the famous blue belt and McCloskey believe Brian Magee has every chance of doing likewise when he squares off against Mads Larsen of Denmark in January.
“Hopefully Brian can do it as well in January. There is no reason why he cant because he is a class boxer.”