THE dream ended for Pádraig McCrory in the sixth round at Orlando's Caribe Royale on Saturday as Edgar Berlanga blasted through him to regain his knockout touch.

Bit by bit, the Brooklyn native upped the tempo and began to one up after a cagey start in which he was clearly wary of the danger in front of him, but once he hurt the West Belfast man, he was in no mood to let him off the hook.

'The Chosen One' was without a stoppage victory in his previous five wins after going 16 straight with first-round finishes and there was pressure on him to not just win, but in style to compliment his desire to face the super-middleweight king, Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.

He did so and his performance on the night was on point as he displayed patience and power, but it was his speed and distance control that was also key as he gave McCrory little by the way of openings to exploit.

As for McCrory, he can return with no regrets. The occasion was not too big for him and he tried everything he could, but just couldn't find that spell to take a grip as Berlanga's cautious start took some of the play away and when he did try to fight fire with fire, it was a case of trying to come from behind.

To get to this stage was quite remarkable for the St James' man who enjoyed a fair amount of support in the arena but his hoes of shocking the world just came short as he couldn't fully catch up to Berlanga who admitted that he was nervous about this fight in the build-up.

"It was super important (to get the stoppage)," he said. 

"I told Pádraig McCrory after that I was losing sleep over him as people don't understand that Irish motherf*****s are strong.

"He was undefeated and came got fight. He travelled from another country with his family. He put on one of his (social media) posts he is a 'Cinderella man', so I knew deep down in my heart he was coming to fight, so I prepared for it well."

It was a cagey opener with both content to suss out what was in their face. Anything that did land came from McCrory with two mini Berlanga raids coming to nothing, yet there was a sense the phoney war would soon end.

Berlanga did bring his sharp jab into play early in the second but remained cautious, making McCrory hit thin air for the most part but a short, chopping left from the Belfast man when they did come together did earn the Nuyorican's respect.

Both seemed to draw a mistake from the other but in the third, Berlanga was warned for use of the elbow, perhaps deciding to rough up the Belfast man and began to target downstairs as the exchanges gradually became more physical.

The first dent came in the fourth as from a clinch, Berlanga exited with a short, powerful left that hurt McCrory who was forced onto the back foot. He was forced to hold to see out the round and was tagged again early in the fifth with a right.

Blood was coming from the nose of the Belfast man as he was forced to move back and for the second time, was hit blatantly low.

Perhaps it was a tactic to make McCrory lose composure and initially in the sixth, the Belfast man seemed to have gathered himself. However, the storm was coming with Berlanga landing some huge shots to which McCrory did incredibly to stand up to. It wasn't sustainable as chopping right on the button would finally make the breakthrough, McCrory dropping and seemingly in trouble of beating the count.


Either way, it was immaterial as there towel came in with 2.44 of the round gone and referee Christopher Young waved it.

"The first thing I told my coach was I wanted to see what I'm receiving," said the victor before throwing his hat in the ring to be Canelo's May 4 opponent.

"I got his timing and he didn't fight scared, but intimidated by my power. I didn't just want to be an offensive fighter, but use my defence before anything to check him out.

"I seen him hurt and saw him break down. He's a veteran so I didn't want to go crazy until I had him hurt."