MAKE no mistake, the challenge for Padraig McCrory against Edgar Berlanga at the Caribe Royale in Orlando on Saturday night (from midnight Irish time, live on DAZN) is greater than any he has previously faced, but that's not to say the West Belfast man is facing mission impossible. 

The fight is aptly named 'Shootout' as both carry concussive power, but with that in mind, they are likely to enter the ring respectful of the pitfalls. 

Berlanga is the rising star and the 'home' fighter, built-up by promoter Eddie Hearn all week as the future of the super-middleweight division, even going as far to say the Nuyorican can kick down the door to become the May 4 dance partner for undisputed champion 'Canelo' Alvarez, so long as he produces something special on Saturday.

The chances of him earning that shot are pretty fanciful, but a big win over the Belfast man could possibly see him jump to the front for that fight later in the year or perhaps even set-up a showdown with Jaime Mungia.

Is that a challenge for 'The Chosen One' who is without a stoppage in his last five having score 16-straight first-round KOs to start his career? Certainly, he hasn't looked quite as devastating as the level of opposition grew and was even forced to pick himself off the canvas late in the win over Marcelo Coceres.

That is the chink of light that McCrory will have identified as his route to victory as whilst Berlanga can certainly dish it out, can he take it? 

The Belfast man has also been without a stoppage in recent times, going to the cards on his three fights since sensationally blitzing Leon Bunn in Frankfurt to claim the IBO light-heavyweight title in October 2022.

Part of the problem was a damaged hand that prevented him from sparring or doing much by way of heavy pad work for his last outing, a points win over Steed Woodall at the Falls Park in August, but those issues have been resolved and he is back firing on all cylinders.

He will need to be as there is no question of the challenge he faces against a younger rival of nine years who will have the edge in speed, but can also be a little reckless.

In his last fight, Berlanga knocked Donegal's Jason Quigley to the floor four times on his way to a points win, but did not have it all his own way as Quigley out-boxed him for substantial periods and also tagged him hard.

Should McCrory also detonate clean, then Berlanga could be in bother as there is a suspicion he can be hurt.

Many will look to the win over Bunn as the template for McCrory and there are aspects to that win which he can draw from, but the 2021 victory over Sergei Gorokhov - who was coming off a win over the then 27-0 Marko Nikolic - may in fact be a better guide as chipped away as a marauding, aggressive fighter who was looking to unload and eventually broke him apart.

Berlanga is of course much better than the Russian and is likely to come flying out of the traps to make that huge statement there seems quite a bit of pressure on him to produce, so remaining cautious early, not giving anything away cheaply and waiting for his chance to unload, which will almost certainly come given Berlanga's style.

"I think he's a great fighter, but I think I've got what it takes to win this fight," said McCrory at Thursday's press conference.

"We have practiced and meticulously went through tactics. Whether it's (plan) A, B or C, we're ready for what he has.

"If I don't (perform) I'm in for a hard fight. I have been squealing for this opportunity and now I'm here, it's up on me to show up."

Both have had the carrot of Canelo or Jaime Mungia dangled in front of them for winning and both are desperate to take that leap into real superstardom.

Berlanga was not quite as brash at Thursday's press gathering, perhaps the competitiveness of Quigley last time making him aware that Irish fighters are no easy task, but no less confident.

"We don't overlook anybody," he stressed.

"McCrory is a tough guy, undefeated and coming from he bottom, just like I am.

"I know the competition is getting tougher, so we have prepped really well and haven't overlooked him because at this level, anything can happen. All week I've been saying 'superstar week' as I've got to shine."

Berlanga needs to shine or the questions that have been building around whether he is in fact the real deal will grow louder and that can bring added pressure.

McCrory is happy to play the underdog but knows that he has it in his locker to cause a major upset.

Just what plan he and head coach Dee Walsh have concocted will need to be carried out to perfection and when the chances come, he must pull the trigger.

Berlanga is certainly the favourite, but McCrory has previous for ripping up the script on the road. One big punch can change his life and he has it in his locker.