As he prepares to make the first defence of his European Light Welterweight title Paul McCloskey doesn't have to go too far afield for advice from another man who has been there and done that.
Fellow Derry man Charlie Nash accomplished the same feat in 1979 winning the European Lightweight title and he's backing McCloskey to emerge with his title intact when he meets mandatory challenger Giuseppe Lauri in the main event on the Yanjing Beer Fight Night at The King's Hall, Belfast on Friday, June 11th.
Nash lifted the European Lightweight crown in 1979 and would go on to defend the title twice including a successful first defence against Scottish boxing legend Ken Buchanan before falling short in a World title tilt against another Scottish boxing icon, Jim Watt.
Now involved with the Ring Boxing Club in his native Derry Nash has kept a close eye on McCloskey's progress since first watching him as a young amateur.
“I've followed Paul's career right from his amateur days with St. Canice's in Dungiven,” said Nash. “John Duddy was with us in the Ring B.C. and we used to take him down to Dungiven for sparring with Paul and Eamon O'Kane and they used to return the favour by coming up to us as well. Paul was always a quality operator and it was obvious from a young age that he was going to be very, very, good.
“He's a very difficult opponent for anyone because firstly he's a southpaw but he's also very hard to hit. He has a great left hand, a fantastic right hook and he can punch to the body as well.”
Nash was ringside in Magherafelt last November to see McCloskey capture the title with an impressive stoppage win over Spain's Daniel Rasilla on a night which saw memories of his own European triumph come flooding back.
“Myself and Paul were lucky because we both got our European title chances on home soil. I really enjoyed Paul's win in Magherafelt because it brought back so many great memories for myself. It was great to see another Derry man claiming a European title and the atmosphere there was tremendous as I'm sure it will be in The King's Hall as well.”
Nash had to travel to Denmark for his first defence against Ken Buchanan but McCloskey will have home advantage when he headlines at The King's Hall for the first time ever. “Having home advantage makes a big difference and it will be a big boost for Paul but Lauri is an experienced guy so I'm not sure that it will affect him all that much.
“I've watched him and he's a tough, experienced operator who knows the game. He's only been beaten by good fighters like Ricky Hatton but I know that Paul will train just as hard for this fight as he did to win the title so I'm sure he can keep a hold of the belt.”
Nash believes that McCloskey is on the cusp of a World title opportunity and he's confident that the unbeaten southpaw can bring World title glory to Derry. “Paul is 30 now so I'd like to see him get this fight out of the way and then maybe have just one more defence before going in for a World title.
“I think he's more than ready for a World title fight and I'd love to see him in with Amir Khan. We all know that Khan has a lot of defensive problems and I think Paul could have the beating of him. The other good champion out there at light welterweight is an American, Tim Bradley and I think that Paul could beat him as well and bring a World title back here.
McCloskey's clash with Lauri headlines a big night of championship boxing at the King's Hall while in the chief supporting bout Lurgan's Stephen Haughian takes on former British champ, Kevin McIntyre for the Celtic Welterweight title.
Cavan's Andy Murray also features as the undefeated European number 3 looks to take another step close to a European title fight with namesake, John Murray. Rising Belfast star Carl Frampton will get a chance to fight in his hometown for the first time as a pro. The Barry McGuigan managed super bantamweight is unbeaten in his first 5 professional outings and tipped for for big things in the paid ranks.
Another exciting new Belfast talent out to extend his unbeaten record at the King's Hall will be flyweight Jamie Conlan while Cuban sensation Alexei Acosta will also feature as he looks to continue a incredible knockout streak that has seen him stop all 10 of his professional opponents to date. Acosta, a World Junior Champion in the amateur ranks is now based in Cork having turned professional in 2008.
Local middleweight duo Joe Rea and Ciaran Healy have also been added to the card with the pair looking to end the unbeaten records of Kris Carslaw and Harry Matthews respectively.
The Yanjing Beer Fight Night will be live on Sky Sports and tickets priced ￡30, ￡60 and ￡90 are available from Ticketmaster and all usual outlets. Contact Ticketmaster 0844 8472455 (0818 719300 from ROI), Box Office 01277 359900, Julie 07745698372, Francie 07803282224.
Boxing News Tags: Box Office, Celtic Welterweight, Charlie Nash, Contact Ticketmaster, Denmark, Derry Nash, Fellow Derry, Fight, Hatton, Jim Watt, Ken Buchanan, King Hall, Lightweight, McCloskey, Rising Belfast, ROI, Spain, Sports