KHAN HOMECOMING PARTY CUT SHORT BY MCCLOSKEY
by Dafydd Thomas
Manchester, England (M.E.N. Arena) – As expected, Amir “King” Khan was too fast, too strong, and too skilled for Paul “Dudey” McCloskey, who gave a spirited effort for six rounds, before the fight came to a premature end due to an accidental clash of heads at the 2:01 mark in the sixth round. The ringside physician deemed that the cut above McCloskey’s left eye was too deep and that he was in no fit state to continue. All scorecards read 60-54 in favour of the defending titlist Khan, who’s looking to unify the division against Timothy Bradley on July 23.
Khan, Bolton, England, was determined to put on a show for the lively Manchester crowd, reported to be 17,000, and came out swinging in the opening round. His work was sloppy, with McCloskey, Dungiven, Northern Ireland, making him miss with elusive head movement, but he was in no position to counter. McCloskey (22-1, 12 KO) was confident enough to keep his guard down, which he did for the majority of the fight, relying on head and feet movement as defense to avoid Khan’s blistering combinations.
Only ten seconds into round two, and Khan (25-1, 17 KO) had already pumped a jab-jab-overhand right combination onto McCloskey’s temple. For the rest of the round, Khan, 139, attempted to get on the inside and smother McCloskey, also 139, changing it up nicely from upstairs and downstairs with a sweet left hook to the ribcage at the mid-point of the round. McCloskey’s cute style was frustrating Khan, who wasn’t able to tag the Northern Irishman as clean as he’d hoped. A crisp 1-2 from Khan was followed by a counter right from the challenger, which grazed the WBA titlist’s chin which seemed to fire him up even more so.
By the third stanza, it was obvious that McCloskey wouldn’t be able to deal with the ferocious speed of Khan, and the European champion had to stop Khan from teeing off behind his jab. The tempo slowed down as Khan began to pump out his jab a little better, but he still struggled to find his range, with McCloskey more than holding his own in the ring. A clean straight right from Khan at 1:50 seemed to have McCloskey momentarily stunned, but he wisely used his feet and circled the ring to get his senses back.
Khan opened up the fourth with a crisp shot to the midsection of McCloskey, followed by a short right hand straight down the pipe. At 0:48, McCloskey went down after tripping over Khan’s lead foot, with referee Luis Pabon correctly signalling no knockdown. The difference in class was evident as McCloskey resorted to trying to rough Khan up, while the Wild Card fighter kept pumping out combination after combination. Khan tagged McCloskey with a head-snapping right in the final thirty seconds of the round, forcing the southpaw to hold on. It was another comfortable Khan round, but the rounds were getting closer as the fight wore on.
And so was the case in round five, as McCloskey started to stand in the pocket inviting Khan to trade with him in the center of the ring. At the 1:36 mark, Khan got in with a strong right hand, but McCloskey matched him with a counter uppercut of his own, as a result getting a nod of approval from Khan. Khan had resulted to showboating to keep the crowd loud. With every successful McCloskey shot that landed, the 2004 Olympian would raise his hands just in case the crowd were worried that he was wobbled. Khan landed a right-left-right combination as the round drew to a close, stopping McCloskey in his tracks and forcing him to back up.
1:36 into the sixth, Khan opened up and rocked McCloskey with a sweeping right hand, unloading with wide hooks looking to floor his frustrating challenger. Khan kept looking for the money punch, but thirty seconds later, heads came together and a cut formed above McCloskey’s left eye. At first, it looked like the cut wasn’t going to hamper with McCloskey’s vision that much, but the ringside physician stopped the fight deeming that it was deep for McCloskey to continue, drawing a chorus of boos from the spectators. It was a scrappy end to a scrappy fight.
Judges Terry O’Connor, Howard Foster and Dave Parris all scored the fight 60-54 for Khan, who won by sixth round technical decision.
Before the decision was announced, Barry Hearn, McCloskey’s manager, had to be restrained by John Breen, McCloskey’s trainer, as he protested against the decision to wave off the contest.
“It is a shameful decision, we will make a complaint and we want a re-match. I have been in the game a long time and I am absolutely astonished, I cannot believe that fight was stopped.” Hearn said after the fight.
Khan, coming across slightly disappointed in his post-fight interview, had this to say “I wanted to knock him out to be honest. I am not the doctor but had it gone another two rounds I would have knocked him out. He said he did not want to continue.” Khan also hinted at the possibility of the Bradley fight on July 23, “I want to go onto bigger things now and show I am the best in the world.”
On the undercard, Rendall Munroe (22-2, 9 KO) got back to winning ways in a frustrating performance in his first fight under Hatton promotions, edging Andrei Isaeu with a unanimous decision via scores of 117-112, 116-112 and 115-114. Munroe’s output was not as high as usual, and his performance lacked any real flair and tempo.
The highlight of the night came from the most unexpected source, as Lee Purdy (15-2-1, 8 KO) timed a right hand to perfection 40 seconds into the fifth round, knocking out Craig Watson (20-4, 8 KO) and winning the fight. Watson had a clean sweep through four rounds in an entertaining contest before Purdy landed the punch of the night, and collecting his most impressive win to date in his young career.