By Andrew Wake: Paul McCloskey’s fans claimed their man was ‘cheated not defeated’ following his world title loss to Amir Khan last year and after seeing the Dungiven southpaw controversially halted by DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley, they’ll surely be saying the same thing once again.
McCloskey, 32, did a wobbly dance after being caught by a right hook in the tenth round and referee Ian John Lewis was quick to step between the fighters and call a halt to the action.
Clearly the official was only looking after McCloskey’s best interests but even Corley said afterwards that he felt the fight could go on and was surprised with the timing of the stoppage.
Still, the name known as “Dudey” had been having a torrid night before the end came.
Following a cagey opening round, Corley, who has mixed it with the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Miguel Cotto, busted the Irishman’s nose with quality punches in round two and further detonated hefty blows a frame later.
Indeed, a short right hook to the chin had McCloskey wobbling badly just before the bell sounded for the end of round three.
To his credit, Dudey battled back well in the middle rounds and despite his blooded nose still giving him problems, began to press ahead with a solid jab and decent left cross.
But while the fight finally seemed to be swinging in his favour, his low held hands did him no go and Corley carefully picked home his jab before firing off the odd weighty bomb upstairs.
And one of those shots turned the tide and closed the show at 2.28.
“I will have to sit down and figure out what went wrong,” McCloskey told Sky Sports. “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."
On the same bill, fellow Dungiven man Eammon O’Kane took the first ever all-Irish Prizefighter title when he defeated JJ McDonagh in foul-laden and scrappy final.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, 30, used bullying tactics and a higher workrate to force McDonagh to the ropes before firing in short hooks on the inside.
For the first two rounds McDonagh probably felt like he was fighting two men as it seemed that referee Terry O’Connor was against him as he issued out several warnings for infringements which were minor at worse, while at the same time allowing O’Kane to get away with liberal use of the head.
By the start of the third, though, McDonagh had decided to really give the referee something to complain about and begun to use dirty tactics, including a low blow which cost him a point.
In the end that deduction proved academic anyway because the judges scores were 30 – 26, 29 – 27 and 30 – 27.