It was meant to be a victory bourn out of his superior flair and style, but Paul McCloskey was forced to employ fight and substance to win a back and forth tense world title eliminator in a packed Odyssey Arena on Saturday night.
McCloskey transformed from noted boxer to dogged fighter, battled back from a dubious first round knock down and ignored a broken nose to eventually beat Breidis Prescott
by margins of 115-113, 114-113 and 114-113 on the judges’ scorecards, much to the delight of his partisan following.
‘Dudey’s’ world title dream looked in jeopardy on occasion as knock out specialist Prescott, who holds a KO victory over Amir Khan, dominated in patches and landed some massive shots in the early and mid rounds.
However, the John Breen trained star was determined not to let a world title shot slip from his grasp and showed tremendous heart and bravery to come back and shade the tense encounter.
As a result the artful dodger, who was disappointed with his performance if the not the result, stole world title pole and earned himself a second tilt.
“I had to dig deep. It was back and forth early on but I think from the seventh on I was winning. That was up there with my top victories. I beat a world class performer and a top ten fighter. I am not happy with my performance but I had to get into a fight to win. This game is about winning. Its not just about looking good. I don’t mind looking ugly and winning,” McCloskey said.
“I proved tonight I can fight at world level. (WBA world champion) Maidana has been touch and he would love to fight me. He is the type of person I would like to work with. Amir Khan is the lucrative fighter, but I want to win a world title. If Khan wants to fight me well and good I would love that but I don’t care who I fight to win a world title.”
McCloskey was tipped to hit and run before the fight, but after falling behind opted for the search and destroy approach. The 32 year old decided to force the issue and the stylist turned warrior in the nail biting brutal battle.
“I boxed since the age of six and never broke my nose before tonight. It wasn’t too sore but the blood ruins your breathing and frustrates you. I just had to get on with it. I felt he was less effective on the back foot so I decided to go forward. I employed the tactics needed to win the fight. I had to dig deep but it was worth it.”
Meanwhile there was also wins for Eamonn O’Kane, Luke Wilton, Dee Taggart and Liam Hutchinson on the card whilst Marc McCullough lost to former Paulie Hyland foe Dai Davis.