By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
CHAMPION Amir Khan is determined to put the wow factor into his performance against Paul McCloskey in Manchester tonight.
Amir Khan makes the fourth defence of his WBA world light-welterweight title against the unbeaten Ulsterman at the MEN Arena.
And, with a unification bout against WBC and WBO champion Tim Bradley already pencilled in for Las Vegas on July 23, Khan intends to turn in a dazzling performance.
He said: “I have to impress against McCloskey because, when I go to the Bradley fight, I want everybody to have confidence in me.
“There will be nothing better than going into a fight like that on the back of the kind of performance that left everyone talking about how good it was.”
Khan’s latest victory came against gritty Argentinian ace Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas when he battled his way to a unanimous points win.
And he added: “Like the Maidana fight, the Bradley one will be 50-50 because you will have two guys who are the top in the division.
“A lot of people think Bradley will win because he is unbeaten but beating McCloskey will give me even more confidence.
“McCloskey is no joke. He is undefeated, European champion and the next step up for him is a world title. I am giving him that chance.”
Khan, 24, is taking the threat of McCloskey, 31, so seriously that he deliberately chose sparring partners who would severely test him at his training camp.
He said: “I have been having some really hard sparring sessions that have reminded me of being in the trenches against Maidana.
“I had to dig deep to survive because they never took it easy on me.
“I deliberately went down that course because I know he is the kind of fighter who will always come back at you and try to knock your head off.
“I had really tough sparring partners both in Los Angeles and the Philippines. We had some real wars and the people watching were really excited by it.
“But you have to do that because, at the end of the day, you have to treat your sparring like a fight because it is all so serious.
“By doing it the way I do it, you don’t go into the ring on fight night thinking it is going to be easy.
“I get hardened up with my sparring and that is the kind of challenge I want.”
McCloskey, a clear underdog with the bookies, believes the time is right for him to relieve Khan of his world crown.
He said: “In boxing terms, Amir is the biggest name out there – but I think I am getting this fight at the perfect time.
“You have to bear in mind that he took a lot of punishment in the Maidana fight, more than he would have expected to take.
“There was a lot of damage done in that fight by Maidana, who is a tough boy.
“But Maidana wasn’t cute enough to take him out – I am!”
PREDICTION: I can’t see McCloskey coping with the speed and power of Khan, who I can see finishing off his challenger quickly – perhaps even in the first!
THE Khan-McCloskey fight will be shown live on Primetime Channel 480 on Sky and streamed on www.primetimelive.co.uk from 8pm. To watch, call 0871 200 4444.