By Terence Dooley
Derby's Dave "Rocky" Ryan, seemed as stunned as Paul "Dudey" McCloskey when referee Steve Gray turned in a 77-75 scorecard in Ryan's favour to hand the Northern Irish boxer an upset loss in their eight-threes fight on the undercard of Saturday's Dennis Hobson-promoted bill at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
Ryan, 15-8 (3), dropped a 10-round decision to Sam Eggington last month, in an English welterweight title eliminator, and was seen as nothing more than a solid warm up foe for McCloskey, who was taking part in his first outing in 15-months. Ryan, though, boxed well behind his left hand to grab the win despite a knockdown in the fourth, which came courtesy of a right hand to the solar plexus.
McCloskey falls to 24-3 (12) and looked a long way short of the form that brought him to the EBU light-welterweight title and a world title tilt against Amir Khan, a Technical Decision defeat for the WBA belt in April 2011. The Derry-based southpaw did not stick around long enough to talk to Steve Bunce of BoxNation TV, who are televising the card, but Ryan was happy discuss the win.
"In my heart, the luck I've had the past couple of fights, no — I thought they'd have give it him by a couple of rounds. I did win a lot of the rounds on the jab alone — catching him with the jab and doubling up on it. It was a cracking body shot that he caught me with, there was no way I could stay up from that, but, yeah, I'm happy. That was the biggest body shot I've ever had. I just came back strong."
Clifton Mitchell, Ryan's trainer and a former heavyweight contender, argued that his man won it handily when dissecting the fight during Bunce's post-fight analysis. He said: "If you don't score a jab then he didn't win the fight, we had another fight where he jabbed his [the opponent's] face off and didn't get it. The first thing you learn in the boxing gym is to throw a left jab, or a lead jab as the amateurs say, and McCloskey's a very tricky fighter, but Dave's never been stopped amateur or professional. The fight itself, I thought it was easy."
Mitchell and Ryan both talked up a rematch, and McCloskey will have no option but to take it if he is to get back on the rocky road of contention. Time is not on the 34-year-old's side, and the scorecard certainly wasn't tonight, so he will have to improve on his performance if the two meet again early in 2014.
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