THERE was a West Belfast feel to Thursday's Europa Hotel press conference as aside from Michael Conlan's IBF featherweight title challenge to Luis Alberto Lopez being announced, it was confirmed that both Anthony Cacace and Padraig McCrory will feature in major fights on the undercard.
IBO super-featherweight champion Cacace will box in his home city for the first time since February 2015 and is hoping to secure a major opportunity to push him into contention for a crack at one of the four main belts, while McCrory - who won the IBO light-heavyweight title last year - returns to the super-middleweight division for an expected WBA title eliminator.
'The Hammer' had been expected to face Yamaguchi Falcao, but the Brazilian has got the challenge to challenge WBA 'regular' champion David Morrell with McCrory now possibly facing Mark Heffron, although that is not yet definite.
"It's a chance for me to get a crack at a world title and to have a big fight on a massive show is massive for me," said McCrory.
"We're looking at different opponents and every one is very exciting, so I just want to deliver for the fans in Belfast. I've boxed at the Odyssey on my debut but this is going to be three or four times bigger.
"If we get the fight we're looking at, it's going to be very exciting. My opponent is a big puncher, I'm a big puncher so expect fireworks, excitement and I think someone is going to sleep."
‼️ 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐁𝐨𝐱𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐁𝐞𝐥𝐟𝐚𝐬𝐭— Conlan Boxing (@ConlanBoxing) March 22, 2023
💥 @Venadolopez1 vs @mickconlan11
🥇 𝙄𝘽𝙁 𝙁𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙬𝙚𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙 𝙏𝙞𝙩𝙡𝙚
🗓️ 27th May 2023
📺 @BTSportBoxing @ESPNPlus #LopezConlan pic.twitter.com/yCxIagIVBB
Tyrone McKenna, Lewis Crocker, Fearghus Quinn, Kurt Walker, Kieran Molloy and Conor Quinn are other names who are likely to feature on the card, but for Cacace, it will be a special night as he finally gets to shed his 'road warrior' tag by returning to his home city.
Since defeating Santiago Bustos on the undercard of Carl Frampton v Chris Avalos in 2015, 'The Apache' has won IBO, British and Celtic titles on the road.
He had hoped to lock horns with Archie Sharp or Jono Carroll on May 27, but those seem unlikely opponents, but he still has hopes of securing a big opportunity to push towards one of the four major belts.
"I'm buzzing to be a part of a show like this with Michael fighting for a world title, so I'm grateful to be part of it," he said.
"I want big fights and decent names. The bigger the fight is, the better it is for me. I'm 34 now so I'm at the stage of my career where I need a big fight.
"I've been training since January and have had a bit of a break, but I'm ready to go. I just want to fight for a world title and hopefully, someone steps up and gives me a chance."