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McCrory ready for first title opportunity against Collins

Padraig McCrory predicts his skill and power will be too much for the naturally bigger Steve Collins Jnr on Saturday Padraig McCrory predicts his skill and power will be too much for the naturally bigger Steve Collins Jnr on Saturday
By David Mohan

HAVING safely negotiated his professional apprenticeship, Pádraig McCrory believes he is ready to make a statement on Saturday when he takes on Steve Collins Jnr for the BUI Celtic super-middleweight title.

‘The Hammer’ has won all eight of his professional contests to date, stopping three along the way, but will face an altogether tougher challenge against Collins who usually campaigns at light-heavyweight.

What the St James’ man may be conceding in terms of size and strength, he more than makes up for in boxing nous and he believes the Dubliner is the ideal opponent for his first professional title fight on such a grand stage.

“They gave me a couple of names and I thought because of the event and for where I am now, Collins was best suited,” said the popular 31 year-old.

“I don’t think he punches that hard. He has four stoppages on his record and for those he has stopped, they’d been knocked-out many times.

“He will be physically strong, so I’ve been doing a lot of rounds in sparring with Dee Sullivan just to get used to a come-forward fighter who will be bigger and stronger.

“He might have fought at a heavier weight, but I don’t think he has been hit the way I will with my speed and power.”

In his last outing at the Ulster Hall back in May, McCrory boxed his way to a points’ win over Eric Nwankwo with a patient display.

There was one eye on earning a shot on Saturday’s Falls Park card, so he employed a safety-first approach to ensure there were no unnecessary injuries or slip-ups – a fate that befell Taylor McGoldrick who was initially due to be the man in the opposite corner on Saturday, but was knocked-out at the Ulster Hall in June.

The shackles will be off on Saturday for McCrory who says there is nothing else on his mind apart from Collins and scoring what will be a career-best win.

“I did six rounds against a big, strong and physical lad,” he recalls of that victory over Nwankwo.

“I played it a bit safe that night because I knew I had the Féile coming up, so this time there will be no playing it safe as it’s such a big fight. I want to do a job on him and there’s nothing else on my mind apart from this fight.”

With the venue just around the corner from his native St James’, McCrory will enjoy the bulk of the support and as usual, he will bring a huge support. That does bring some pressure, but it will not be a factor he stressed.

“There is talk of me getting a good slot on the card, so it should be the biggest crowd I’ve ever boxed in front of,” he predicts.

“With this being my first title fight, people are expecting big things from me, as it is a step-up. There are factors that add pressure here, but once the bell goes that pressure always goes out the window.

“I got over 200 tickets for this as I always sell well and they are all gone. I am expecting them (supporters) to make loads of noise, so hopefully that filters through the crowd and they get louder and it helps me develop an even bigger fan-base.”

A win on Saturday will not just earn him his first title belt, but also open the door for further progress in his career.

The shows have been coming thick and fast in Belfast this year, with Saturday’s the fourth of what could be six visits to the city for his handlers, MTK Global.

McCrory is aware that an impressive win here could even see him top the bill before Christmas, but he must get the job done on Saturday evening.

“There is talk of two more (MTK) shows in Belfast before the end of the year,” he revealed.

“A good win here and potentially I could end up headlining at the Ulster Hall and on the verge of something like a WBO European title.”

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