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No rematch on the cards for Dudey

“McCloskey’s promoters may class the rematch as ‘the fight that everyone wants to see’ but the truth is that the Dungiven man has lost his chance, even if that was not his own fault.”

‘SLIM’ WAS THE realistic assessment of Paul McCloskey when asked of his chances of securing a rematch against Amir Khan, despite the controversial ending of their World Title bout last Saturday.

It’s a view that is difficult to argue with, unfortunately.

McCloskey’s promoters may class the rematch as ‘the fight that everyone wants to see’ but the truth is that the Dungiven man has lost his chance, even if that was not his own fault.

As far as I’m aware, no respected pundit has classified last Saturday’s stoppage as fair or reasonable.  For ‘Dudey’ not to fight on after receiving a sizable but not huge cut over his right eye was shameful at best and disgusting at worst.

However, as McCloskey openly begins looking at potential fights against IBF Titlist Zab Judah or Erik Morales, the truth is that while it did not go to plan, Saturday’s performance may yet prove to be a significant boost for his career.

The fight, aired on HBO, will have won him some plaudits in the US.  The 7,000 Irish fans in the MEN Arena, and the large crowd that greeted him upon his return home, will have raised the eye-brows of promoters looking to sell tickets.  He will have options going forward.

Two other points of note from the fight – Amir Khan has lost a lot of fans with his behaviour in the post-fight press conference.  His dismissal of a man who had given him a tougher-than-expected bout was poor.  However, with Khan now likely to base himself in the US, and with a new four-fight deal from HBO, this is likely to matter little.

Secondly, if there is anyone who doubts the sheer stupidity of the stoppage, one need only look at two recent fights which have occurred in British rings.  Just two years ago, Khan secured a crucial win against Marco Antonio Barrera, when the Mexican lost a similar sort of fight against Khan.  He was cut in the second round, but the fight continued until the fifth when a stoppage meant the judges would be consulted, and a result (a Khan win) rendered.

Meanwhile, fellow 2008 Olympic medallist Tony Jeffries tweeted a picture of himself after a recent fight, with a cut much worse than that which was suffered by McCloskey.  He was allowed to box on, and indeed won.  Collectively they show the sense of injustice that Dudey can rightly feel seven days on, even if retribution is unlikely.

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While last Saturday didn’t go to plan for McCloskey, it was a satisfactory evening for fellow Ulsterman Andy Murray.  Though not impressive in his win over Dezzie Higginson, Murray has now won his 24 career fights to date, one short of the Irish record.

The fight to capture a share of that record will be against Welshman Gavin Rees for the European Light-Welterweight Title, recently vacated by McCloskey.  Rees is a former World Titlist so the fight will be a big test for the Cavan native, but it is one he can win.

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This week saw the confirmation that the much-anticipated contest between David Haye and Wladamir Klitschko will be held in Hamburg on 2 July.   We had known that the fight was coming for some time, and that it would be held at this time of the year, but the confirmation of a date makes the biggest heavyweight fight since Lewis-Tyson in 2002 that bit closer.

The fight will no doubt be helped by what seems to be genuine resentment between both men.  Haye has predicted that his opponent will ‘freeze like an iceberg’, while the Ukranian has dismissed this as mere ‘trash talking’.  Having been based in Germany for most of his career, Klitschko effectively has home advantage for this fight but that us unlikely to be a significant factor.  Haye will be bolstered by a large following from Britain, while two of his biggest wins to date have been against Nikolai Valuev in Germany and against Jean-Marc Mormec in Paris.

A a consequence of this week’s announcement, Matthew Macklin’s World Title bout with Felix Sturm has been brought forward by one week and will be held in Cologne on 25 June.

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This weekend’s biggest action comes from Los Angeles, and a show which was due to hold the final of US Network Showtime’s bantamweight tournament.  Joseph Agbeko will now not take on Abner Mares however, after the Ghana native was diagnosed with sciatica.  The fight which was due to open the show, Vic Darchinyan – Yonnhy Perez will now take top billing and should be interesting, if little more.

The late injury for Agbeko means another Showtime tournament has hit trouble.  The network is the main backer of the Super Six Middleweight Tournament which has rumbled on for eighteen months, with limited success at best.  Though a novel concept, boxing simply isn’t suitable for these contests.

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One of the pioneers of Irish boxing has been honoured this week.  Dan Donnelly has been inducted into the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame which is based in Belfast, New York.  Donnelly was the first Irish heavyweight champion, and though he fought only three times, he was a folk hero of the early 19th century.  His fight against England’s George Cooper is marked to this day with a plaque and the naming of a part of the Curragh in his honour.

After his death, Donnelly was buried in a Dublin cemetery, only for his body to be dug up by grave robbers.  Though he was to be re-interned, his right arm which had won him acclaim was cut off for medical research, and has since travelled across the British Isles and America.  Currently, it is at the University of Limerick Arena for an exhibition entitled Fighting Irishmen which also has a host of other boxing memorabilia.  It is well worth checking out.

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This week in boxing history

On Saturday last, Amir Khan almost paid the ultimate price for not taking an opponent seriously, a lesson he should have learnt 10 years previously when Lennox Lewis took on Hasim Rahman in South Africa on 23 April, 2001.  The fight, unusually broadcast live by the BBC, was supposed to be Lewis’ last contest before a mega-fight against Mike Tyson.

However, as had happened to Iron Mike in Tokyo against Buster Douglas, Lewis was to realise that even the seemingly easy opponents can be banana skins for the very best.  Lewis was around 10 days off the film set, where he had been involved in the shooting of Oceans Eleven, but on this night it was the Baltimore native who would strike the jackpot with a stunning shot near the end of the fifth round.  Lewis would go onto defeat Rahman in a rematch that November (there was another stunning knockout in that one) before his career-defining win over an aging Tyson in June 2002.

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About the author:

Gavin Grace

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