Paul McCloskey says he has to beat Manuel Perez on the ‘Judgement Day’ bill at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on Saturday September 22 live on Sky Sports, to keep his World light welterweight title dreams alive.
McCloskey is aiming to get back to winning ways after his shock defeat to DeMarcus Corley in May and believes that he needs an impressive win over NABA champ Perez in order to get back on track to major titles.
“Defeat isn’t an option here – I have to win this fight,” said McCloskey. “I want to win and I want to win the fight well but if I win ugly I don’t really care because I want to get up those WBC rankings as soon as the fight is over.
“I have seen him fight and he is a tough customer, and he comes into this fight off the back of a good result beating Jose Miguel Cotto in his last fight. If I am not at my best this could be a hard night’s work because he is there all the time, he works all the time and he is in your face, so I need to be at my best to put him off his game.
“The way I am working at the moment I am feeling very good about the fight, I am feeling very confident. I am looking forward to getting back into the ring and getting back to winning ways.”
“This is an international contest so a win would put me back in the top 10 rankings. I would be looking for a European or world title fight, so I want to win this fight to get back into the top 10 rankings and push on and try and get back to a world title fight as quick as possible.”
McCloskey’s World title challenge against Amir Khan in April 2011 ended in frustrating circumstances as a cut in the sixth round saw the contest stopped in the Bolton man’s favour.
Victory over Breidis Prescott followed in a real gut-check for the Dungiven man, but now he says he needs to right the wrongs of the Corley loss to put his name back into the frame for titles.
“I didn’t perform to my best that night [Corley] but I still feel that the fight was stopped very quickly,” said McCloskey. “I didn’t even get the chance to fight my way out of trouble, so I still have some question marks over the way that fight ended.
"But it has happened now and you have to deal with it and the best way for me to deal with it is for me to get back into the ring and win. I have been training well and I am in good shape. I have been sparring with some tough contenders, who are quick and good workers and are similar to Perez’s style.”
McCloskey’s clash with Perez is part of fantastic night of action in Belfast as local star Carl Frampton defends his Commonwealth and IBF Inter-Continental super bantamweight titles against two-time World champion Steve Molitor. Frampton steps up to World class level for the first time.
Belfast’s Martin Lindsay challenges Lee Selby for the Welshman’s British and Commonwealth featherweight titles in what could be a classic. Dungiven’s Eamonn O’Kane fights for the vacant Celtic middleweight title, and fellow Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paddy Gallagher makes his professional debut.
Former Team GB stars Kal Yafai, Martin J. Ward and Scotty Cardle continue their education in the pro ranks, with Yafai stepping up to six round action for the first time, and Belfast’s Dee Walsh and Fivemiletown’s Ben Mulligan also fight in six and four rounders respectively.
Tickets are on sale from the Odyssey Arena box office on 028 9073 9074 and at www.odysseyarena.com – tickets are priced at £30, £40, £60 and £100.
Ringside VIPs tickets priced at £150 are exclusively available from Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com.
McCloskey and O’Kane’s fans can also buy their tickets at the prices above from Eurospar Dungiven and any EuroXchange outlet.