Paul “Dudey” McCloskey will be hoping put the disappointment of his shock loss to DeMarcus Corley behind him as he targets another European title shot.
The veteran American played the role of party pooper to perfection, rocking the former undefeated European light welterweight champion and World title challenger with a crunching right hook that forced referee Ian John Lewis to end the contest in the tenth round.
The Corley fight followed a fine win against Breidis Prescott in Belfast in September 2011. The Dungiven fighter had bounced back from a first round knockdown and a bloodied nose in the second round to secure a gritty unanimous points win in front of a packed Belfast crowd.
That victory was McCloskey’s first return to the ring since his controversial loss to Amir Khan in April that year, a result which had removed his undefeated tag.
McCloskey had challenged Khan for the Bolton man's WBA Super Lightweight title at the M.E.N Arena in Manchester but his dream was cruelly taken away in the sixth round when a clash of heads left McCloskey with a cut above his left eye, and the referee stepped in to end the contest with Khan ahead on all three judge’s cards at that point.
After a bitter row following the fight, McCloskey regrouped and focussed his attention on a return to the ring, and he did so in some style. Pitted against the only man to beat Khan at that point, McCloskey met Prescott in front of a packed crowd at the Odyssey Arena. The vocal support for the Northern Irishman was stunned into silence in the opening round when McCloskey was knocked to the canvas.
But the Irishman rode the early storm well and dominated the latter rounds to claim a unanimous decision win that puts him back on the road for major honours in 2012.
A native of Dungiven in County Derry, McCloskey’s amateur days were fought out of St. Canices ABC and as an amateur he was three-time Irish champion and five-time senior Ulster champion.
The hard-hitting southpaw unleashed his talents on the professional game in March 2005, knocking out 32-fight veteran David Kehoe in his debut at Kings Hall in Belfast. That start was a sign of things to come as he raced to a 13-0 record in his first two years in the professional ranks.
McCloskey was ready for bigger things and proved his potential on 8 December 2007 at Kings Hall when he stopped Bulgarian Toncho Tonchev in four rounds to claim the vacant IBF international junior welterweight title.
Wins over Manuel Garnica, Cezar Bazan and Nigel Wright followed in 2008 before took on Colin Lynes in December for the vacant British title in Dagenham.
McCloskey was due to fight on the undercard that night but stepped up to face Lynes and responded in fine style, claiming the belt when Lynes retired after the ninth round.
McCloskey kicked off 2009 in style with a classy defence of his title against Dean Harrison in Widnes in March. The champ floored the challenger in the opening round but the Wolverhampton fighter managed to get through to the fourth round before the referee stopped the contest – handing McCloskey his 19th win as a pro.
The southpaw raised his profile further in his next bout when he fought Spaniard Daniel Rasilla for the vacant European title in Magherafelt in County Derry. McCloskey eased through the gears before troubling Rasilla in the fifth round and finishing the job in the ninth, flooring the Spaniard with a right before ending the contest with a left.
McCloskey defended his European belt twice in 2010; knocking out Giuseppe Lauri in 11 rounds in June at Kings Hall before a seventh round stoppage of Scotland’s Barry Morrison in County Donegal in October took his record to 22-0 and set him up for a shot at Khan’s coveted belt.