Paul McCloskey’s hopes of a world light welterweight title fight were dealt a massive blow after he was stopped in the 10th round by American DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley.
Dungiven man McCloskey looked sure to win the fight after a great start in front of his home fans at the King’s Hall in Belfast when he was caught by a thunderous right hand by the man from Washington DC. McCloskey was clearly badly shaken and blood spurted from his nose which was broken in the second round as his legs wobbled badly, prompting referee Ian John Lewis to step in and wave the fight off.
It may have been a premature stoppage but the referee clearly felt that McCloskey was unfit to continue and in the interests of safety it was the correct decision.
The 37-year-old Corley had earlier landed some solid shots but his opponent – five years younger and with just one defeat on his record to Amir Khan – was on top due to his workrate and the quality of his boxing. But one punch changed everything and former WBO champion Corley who has previously fought the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto, may well be looking for another title shot against Juan Manuel Marquez which was supposedly talked about prior to this fight happening, so this surprise victory takes Corley’s record to 39-19-1.
McCloskey’s future looks uncertain but he showed plenty of dignity in defeat,refusing to suggest that the stoppage was premature, as so many beaten fighters would surely have tried to do.
After the fight McCloskey said: “I will have to sit down and figure out what went wrong. But you have to give this man a bit of credit. He is a quality operator. His record might tell a different story but he is a quality fighter. This was last chance saloon for this fellow so he came and gave it a good go. “He caught me with a great shot. I thought I could have carried on but every fighter thinks he can fight on, so I am gutted. It is a massive, massive setback for me.”
When Corley was asked what he thought of the way the fight had went he replied:I didn’t think the referee should have stopped the fight,although eventually I would have gotten Paul out of there as he was getting more desperate as the fight went on,i had a game plan to go out all guns blazing from the first round of the fight,but that all changed after the first round as Paul wanted to counter punch and I wanted to fight him in a phone booth up close and on top of him, but that changed very quickly.
On the same bill, Northern Ireland’s Eamonn O’Kane from Dungiven, County Derry won the Irish Middleweights Prizefighter title with a points victory over the Irish super-middleweight champion JJ McDonagh from Mullingar. The 30-year-old Commonwealth Games gold medallist came into the event as the pre-tournament favourite and he justified that status in front of his home fans.
In what was a scrappy final, O’Kane just about deserved the win on the basis of his superior workrate, although in truth neither man landed many clean shots.
O’Kane was helped by a points deduction from the reigning 26-year-old Irish super-middleweight champion McDonagh in the final round for a low blow, although he had hardly been squeaky clean himself earlier in the fight.
That wrapped up the verdict, which went O’Kane’s way 30-27, 30-26, 29-27 as he took his professional record to 7-0 and claimed the £32,000 winner’s cheque.
“I am delighted,” O’Kane said when asked what he thought of prizefighter and his experience of the competition. “I was really nervous when I got the phone call, did I want to be in Prizefighter?. And I thought about it for a wee while and I said, ‘You know what, that’s my style of boxing’.
“It’s always risky for a fighter with a 4-0 unbeaten record, not a lot of them enter, but I’m 30 years old and I wanted to fast-track to fighting for titles as I am 30 years old now and I knew this was the way to do it. And I knew this style of boxing suits me down to the ground from my successful amateur background of fighting in 3 rounders.
“Each one of those lads were awkward. They were strong, they were durable. It was going to take a big effort to get it done and I’m delighted that I’ve done it.”
O’Kane defeated Anthony Fitzgerald from Dublin in the first quarter-final by a split decision in what turned out to be the fight of the night with as many punches thrown in three rounds as there would be in a twelve round fight according to the stats. In the semi-finals, O’Kane saw off Ryan Greene with a first-round stoppage, ending the 6-0 fighter from Lurgan’s unbeaten record in the process.
The fight was marred by a sickening clash of heads which left Greene with blood gushing from his forehead. He was clearly not recovered from that when O’Kane landed a shuddering right hand which sent Greene to the canvas.
He showed little appetite to continue – understandably still shaken by the earlier head clash – and the referee stopped the fight after a count of seven.When asked about the head clash with Greene, O’Kane replied all fighters lead in with the head when going for a shot its just natural movement,the clash of heads is when the two fighters go for the same shot at the same time it happens.I have the utmost respect for Ryan as i have known him from we have been no age, there was definitely no malice intended in the head clash at all.Greene beat experienced Belfast fighter Ciaran Healy in quarter-final number two by unanimous decision with Greene being the busier fighter throughout the contest although Healy did make it very awkward for Greene the best he could and awkwardness will not progress you further in the prizefighter format.
The second semi-final was a more cagey affair but McDonagh was a deserved winner in three rounds over Ballymena’s Joe Rea, a controlled display of quality boxing earning McDonagh the verdict on all three judges’ scorecards 29-28, 30-27, 30-27.
JJ McDonagh beat Roscommon fighter Darren Cruise by unanimous decision in quarter-final number three,and Joe Rea unanimously beat London-based Galway born fighter Simon O’Donnell in quarter-final number four.
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