Irishman Paul McCloskey plucked a world-class right hook to knockout veteran Italian Giuseppe Lauri in dramatic fashion to retain his European title and preserve his aspirations of securing a world-title shot in the near future. Just moments before there had been concerns about his swollen right eye between rounds and he’d had a point deducted for persistent use of his head. It had served to nudge the partisan Kings Hall crowd to the edge of their seats as the points verdict looked likely to be close. Then, with Lauri lowering his guard momentarily, McCloskey stepped forward and thudded his pet right hook on to his chin and the famous old Hall erupted in delight.
Lauri peered up at the referee seemingly bemused at his predicament but clearly disorientated and unable to continue. Cynics who study the slow-motion replays may find the briefest suggestion that McCloskey first appeared to be extending his hand to acknowledge Lauri’s apology – the Italian had just been reprimanded by the referee for ducking his head in – before turning the gesture into a wicked hook which would have felled many a Light-Welterweight.
It had been a performance which included moments of quality, McCloskey particularly eye-catching with the uppercut in the early going.
I’m happy with the result, but unhappy with the performance. I made it tough for myself. I got dragged into his fight.”
There were moments, as there often is with Paul McCloskey fights, when the 30-year-old looked genuinely gifted but he failed to stick to his strengths, stood too close to the Italian and failed to land a straight left throughout the contest. His jab was busy and accurate, and the uppercuts on the inside were also successful but there didn’t appear to be a straight left in the armoury, usually a telling punch for southpaws with fast hands.
Pre-fight talk of chasing Amir Khan strikes me as premature, despite McCloskey’s maturity and one wonders whether another European level opponent or two may yet be used to help discipline him to the 12 round distance and ensure he is more able to box to a plan and his own strengths. Gavin Rees wouldn’t surprise me though the wee Welshman, who boxed and won on the undercard, looks to be trying to work toward the Lightweight division.
A rematch with spar-mate Colin Lynes may be another option. I’d be interested to see how he would contend with either party but there are a host of options for him and the Belfast crowd will remember the telling punch and the night for a long time to come, which means they’ll be back.