08 July 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Highly-rated light-welterweight Paul McCloskey believes that he is now ready to make the step up to world level.
The undefeated Dungiven southpaw will be hoping to rack up his 17th successive win in the professional ranks when he takes on Nigel Wright in Limerick on July 19.
However, after recently paying a visit to Ricky Hattons gym, McCloskey is already looking ahead to bigger and better things.
I feel Im ready for anyone right now, said the Dungiven native. Im 28, so I dont have any time to waste and Id jump at the chance of fighting for a major title.
Things are changing all the time, the WBC, WBA, WBO titles have all changed hands recently as has the European title.
Id love a crack at any one of those guys. Ricky Hatton is still the top man in the division and that would be a dream fight for me.
I was over in Manchester sparring his brother, Matthew, before his last fight and Ricky was training for the Juan Lazcano fight.
I would have loved the chance to spar Ricky as well but with me being a southpaw and Lazcano being orthodox it wasnt really an option.
However, what McCoskey did manage to do was persuade Hattons conditioning coach and nutritionist, Kerry Kayes, to pay him a visit in Northern Ireland.
I had a few good conversations with Kerry when I was in Manchester and since then hes been over to Belfast to speak with me and the rest of the lads at John Breens gym, he explained.
Ive always been very interested in that side of the sport and its something Ive always taken seriously so it was great to get some input from Kerry as well.
Meanwhile, McCloskey insists his willingness to now start seeking out a world title shot has not been prompted by Ring Magazines recent claim that he is the most protected fighter at 140lbs.
At the end of the day whats written on a piece on paper doesnt matter, its what you achieve in your career, he argued.
I know people will look at my last few fights and say that theyve been too easy but thats because Ive made them look easy.
Thats my style of fighting and I think it demoralised some of these guys.
Manuel Garnica had been robbed against Juan Lazcano not long before fighting me and of course he went on to fight Ricky Hatton recently.
Cesar Bazan was a former World Champion and believe me has was still a tough, tough guy.
Since fighting me both Bazan and Garnica have gone on to record wins and Bazan is scheduled to fight on the Cotto-Margarito undercard in a couple of weeks time.
People have said that they were finished but I think thats because I made them look finished so sometimes you can be a victim of your own success.
I know, though, that if I get the opportunity Ill prove I belong at the highest level,” he added.