IT’S not the big name or massive opportunity it could have been for Padraig McCrory on Saturday night, but he is nonetheless wary of any slip-ups against the unpredictable Diego Ramirez.

McCrory looked set to tangle with Yamaguchi Falcao in a world title eliminator, but the Brazilian got the call to step in and face WBA super-middleweight ‘regular’ champion David Morrell on the undercard of Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia in Las Vegas recently.

That gamble didn’t pay off as he was blown away in the opening round by the Cuban southpaw and also left McCrory searching for a new foe and Ramirez, who holds a record of 25-9-1, answered the call.

The Argentine may look like modest opposition, but he is also dangerous as evidenced by his stoppage win over Bradley Skeete in a WBO International title fight in 2018 and then floored Nathan Heaney last year to underline his punching threat despite going on to lose on the cards.

Therefore, with so much noise swirling about a potential world title opportunity in the near future, McCrory is staying grounded and sticking to what has served him so well in a perfect 16-fight career.

“We tried to make a fight with a number of people that didn’t get over the line, but this is what we have and we’re going ahead with it,” said the St James’ man.

“This is an opportunity for him to come and cause an upset that will put him in a great position. He’s done that before when he beat Bradley Skeete and he also dropped Nathan Heaney last year, an unbeaten fighter, so he has previous and I know I need to be switched on.

“He’ll be hungry to come and take my slot. I just missed out on a massive fight on this card but this is a potential banana skin, so I’m ready for what comes my way.”

Of course, McCrory is eager to get his crack at a world title and he may be just one or two wins away.

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez recently retained the undisputed title at 168 lbs with a points win over the gutsy John Ryder, but with the Mexican superstar likely to rematch Dmitry Bivol - most likely up at light-heavyweight where he lost to the Russian last year - it would mean Morrell being the Belfast man’s immediate target.

It would of course be a tough night’s work with the Cuban keen to earn his crack at Canelo in the near future, but one that McCrory would relish.

“Ideally, I would love a shot at David Morrell which has been mentioned,” he confirmed.

“We’re looking at trying to get an International or Inter-Continental fight that would help (secure a world title shot) so hopefully we have a big one in August or towards the end of the year.

“Morrell is a special fighter. Falcao took that fight at short notice and it didn’t work out for him, but I still think I’m a different animal than Falcao.”

Such talk will be parked until after Saturday night as to catch the eye of the champions and also, perhaps more importantly, promoters and TV executives who pull the strings in professional boxing, a win and in emphatic style is needed.

McCrory produced as much when dismantling Leon Bunn for the IBO light-heavyweight title last October in Frankfurt, but admits himself he didn’t get near that level of performance against Dmytro Fedas at the SSE Arena in the mouth of Christmas.

A hectic run of action perhaps left him a little jaded going into that fight and with it being one he was never in any danger of losing, perhaps lacked the edge of previous outings.

That is certainly not the case ahead of this weekend as ‘The Hammer’ is refreshed and ready to deliver a big performance, one he feels he owes himself and the Belfast fans.

“My last performance wasn’t my best, so I think I need to give the Belfast fans the type of performance I put on in Germany,” he insists.

“There is a bigger picture here where I’m on the verge of getting a life-changing fight, so this is about positioning and making sure that when the opportunity comes, I’m ready for it.

“The only reason I fought (in December) was to maximise exposure and because I don’t like to miss events.
“Looking back, I won’t say it was the wrong decision and enjoyed it against an opponent who fitted the occasion, but I was carrying a few niggles. I took some time off to let the body heal and think it will stand me in good stead.

“If I get the win, it puts me on a different path. I said at the start of my career that if I fought for an Irish title I’d be doing well, but now I’m on the verge of fighting for a world title. That’s a credit to my management, my team and to myself so I’m looking forward to the bigger opportunities.”