PLENTY of talk has built about a proposed showdown between Lewis Crocker and Paddy Donovan, but South Belfast’s ‘Croc’ knows he can’t avert his gaze from Conah Walker, whom he meets at Resorts World Arena in Birmingham on Saturday night.

The pair meet in a chief support bout to the European middleweight title fight between Tyler Denny and Felix Cash (live on DAZN) but there are all the ingredients for it to be the fight of the night with both men keen to get on the front foot.

This is Crocker’s 20th outing as a pro and there is a sense his career has finally began to take off over the past year with regular action that has seen him settled with head coach, Billy Nelson and yielded some big wins over Tyrone McKenna and Jose Felix.

The latter took place at the Ulster Hall in January with Walker also impressing on that fight card when stopping Lloyd Germain in the third round of their contest that has brought the Wolverhampton native this opportunity against Crocker.

That win was his second in a round, having lost two of his previous three, and his record of 13-2-1 is modest in contrast to Crocker’s 19 wins in as many outings.

The plan is for the Sandy Row man, a former Holy Trinity amateur, to negotiate this fight and then move straight into battle against Limerick’s Donovan later in the year, but there is a job to be done first and it is an assignment he has no worries about winning.

“This fight doesn’t go the distance,” he predicted.

“100 per cent, I’m getting the victory. I’m supremely confident and ready for it.
“I’ll knock him out. I’m better than this guy, so as much as he says about whatever, I’m better. He was talking about I don’t have dog in me, but he’s about to find out.”

Whether Walker insists on prompting a war or words or not isn’t something that Crocker is unduly concerned about.

The Belfast man’s win over Tyrone McKenna came after a big build-up with plenty of rivalry attached, so this week is nothing he won’t have experienced before.

It’s true that on this occasion, he is very much the away fighter with Walker hailing from Wolverhampton and will enjoy the greater support, but again, Crocker is relaxed about the task ahead and is only concentrating on what will transpire when the opening bell rings.

“I fought Tyrone McKenna in December and the whole city was divided on opinions,” he countered.

“There was heat going into that fight, so I’ve been there and that’s on the biggest stage. I think he (Walker) thinks he is going to intimidate me here, but I’m going into my 20th fight, not some sort of novice.”

When this fight was announced, it came with much fanfare that it would develop into a war and that could well be the case.

If it comes down to a shootout, then Crocker should hold the aces as his devastating power is well known.

Walker is no slouch in that department either and his plan may be to fight fire with fire and test the Belfast man’s will, but that could well backfire in spectacular fashion.

There is that fight against Donovan that Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn appears keen to make by the end of the year, but Crocker’s ambitions are much greater as he wants to get to the top of the 147lb division.

The lie of the land at welterweight is that Terence Crawford, who became undisputed last year,  will move up to light-middleweight to fight Israil Madrimov in August and the rest of his belts could scatter.

As it stands, ‘Bud’ holds the WBA and WBO versions, while the IBF were quick to strip him after the Spence win and Aaron ‘Boots’ Ennis holds that particular strap.

Mario Barrios is now recognised as the WBC champion with Crawford downgraded to ‘Champion in Recess’ due to inactivity.

What that means for the rest of the division, and Crocker, is that the path to a world title could become a little clearer but there is still plenty of work to do.

If his path is indeed Walker and the Donovan, then perhaps it will take another big win to push him into the frame, but he believes he is getting close and another few wins against increasingly   tougher opposition could well do it.

The South Belfast man was marked out as a real prospect to go all the way when he switched to the pro ranks in 2017 and although there have been ups and downs in terms of activity since, the 27-year-old appears on the right path, but must continue to win, beginning with Walker on Saturday, to stay there.

“Two or three (fights away),” he opined of how soon he could get a title shot.

“Conah holds number five with the WBA, so I beat him and fight another high-level opponent, I’ll be knocking on the door. Next year, I’m confident a world title opportunity is there.

“That’s every boxer’s dream and my dream from when I was a kid. Fight by fight, you’re getting closer and I am knocking about towards a world title opportunity. It would mean everything to me as it’s my lifetime goal.”