Dudey distraught as new ‘King’ emerges

IT was a night of mixed emotions for Dungiven boxing fans as Paul ‘Dudey’ McCloskey was outclassed, while Eamon ‘King’ O’Kane roared to victory in the Prizefighter Tournament in Belfast.

McCloskey’s night ended early, after an accumulation of hard punches over ten rounds ended with a ferocious right hand, leaving the Dungiven man in no state to continue.

He had been fighting De Marcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley, a man from Washington DC who has been in with the very best in the welterweight division. McCloskey had looked out of sorts from the off, with his usual lightning-fast reactions letting him down as he was caught time and again by the superior Corley.

His nose was badly broken in the second round, and with the blood streaming all over the ring, Dudey was finding it difficult to breathe. Corley wasted no time in capitalising, and had the Dungiven man reeling in the third. McCloskey tried to play down the extent of the damage by waving his arms and beckoning his opponent on, but he was obviously dazed.

By the fifth and sixth rounds, his legs had begun to look somewhat shaky, but he was still managing to hold his own in an engrossing contest which could have went either way.

He had begun to claw his way back into the fight by this stage, but it was in the tenth round that Corley made his greater punching power and faster reflexes count against a subdued Dudey. He was caught with a ferocious blow flush on the temple and staggered back, looking as if he had little idea where he was for an anxious few seconds.

By the time the referee had stepped in to protect the fighter, Dudey had recovered his senses and was begging to be allowed to continue. Such is the fighting spirit of McCloskey that he was distraught at the fight being stopped, despite the fact that he had little idea where he was for a painful few seconds. He later said that he thought he could have fought on, a view shared by ‘Chop Chop’ Corley.

Eamon O’Kane, who won the Prizefighter tournament in convincing style, said that he was “absolutely gutted” for his “hero” McCloskey.

The Prizefighter tournament pitched eight boxers against each other in a cup-style tournament, in a series of three-round bouts. O’Kane faced the other favourite for the prize, Anthony Fitzgerald, in a vicious and frenetic opener. A ‘King Kane’ in peak physical condition took the victory after landing more clean punches than the hugely aggressive Dubliner.

A very game Lurgan man faced up to O’Kane in the semi-final, but Ryan Greene was dispatched just two-minutes in with a crunching right-hand blow.

In the final, O’Kane faced the cool, calm and collected JJ McDonagh, who had overcome his opponents with accurate, precise punching, using his stinging jab to good effect.

O’Kane dominated a scrappy decider against McDonagh, keeping his head low and getting inside the rangy Mullingar man’s jab to land his own heavy blows.

O’Kane now looks set to go on to bigger and better things after making his mark on Irish boxing live on Sky Sports, but his promoter Eddie Hearn told the Sentinel that he may have to be patient before he moves on to the world stage.

Dudey, however, now faces an uncertain future. De Marcus Corley, the man who has ended any world-title aspersions for the time-being at least, said he rated McCloskey as a ‘C-minus’ fighter on the world stage, but did pay tribute to his heart and fighting spirit.

He said: “Nose broken? Yeah, I told him ‘I broke your nose’ and he said ‘that’s OK!’ I said ‘aw sh*t... He wants to fight!’ I knew he wasn’t going to back down.”

“He’s in the ratings but I say he’s a C-class fighter. I give him a C-minus because he fights with his hands down and that’s not good. No fighter should fight with their hands down unless they’re a mongoose and they can’t get hit.”

Eamon O’Kane said that he was absolutely gutted for Paul, but thanked all the Dungiven and Limavady boxing fans who made the journey over the Glenshane to the King’s Hall in Belfast. He said: “I have to thank everybody for coming up to Belfast to watch me, on a big day for football too. Hopefully I can put on a good show again for them when I fight in September.”