“Tyrone, where I come from, that fighting spirit is in us all...” Fergal McCrory ready to shock world champion Lamont Roach jnr

Former Tyrone GAA star Fergal McCrory to fight for WBA super-featherweight title in Washington

Fergal McCrory won the WBA Inter-Continental title in March and will challenge for the world title in June
Fergal McCrory won the WBA Inter-Continental title in March and will challenge for the world title in June

TWENTY-FIVE years in the school of hard knocks have paid off for Fergal McCrory who gets his long-awaited title shot against WBA super-featherweight champion Lamont Roach jnr in Washington on June 28.

The Tyrone native admits he came close to quitting the sport a couple of years ago but relocating to the USA for his fights and investing in a new training regime has paid off. McCrory won the WBA inter-continental title with a stoppage win in March and now gets the chance to challenge Roach whose only loss in his 24-1-1 career came against former Carl Frampton conqueror Jamel Herring.

“It’s a massive opportunity – brilliant, unbelievable,” McCrory told The Irish News while on a training run in New York.

“I’m confident I’ll take it because I have no doubt in my mind that I have what it takes to beat Lamont Roach junior in his hometown.

“My work ethic is not going to drop – it will increase so I’m very excited. I was very, very close to quitting boxing so many times but I held on, I kept making the sacrifices and now this opportunity has come.”

Roach beat Hector Garcia in Las Vegas to win the WBA in November and defends it on his home turf against McCrory who spent over three years out of the ring between May 2019 and September 2022 before returning to action. He accepts that he is moving up in class and is well aware that Roach is a punishing puncher, particularly on his right side.

“They’ve made a mistake picking me as his opponent,” said McCrory.

“I will take the title off him in his home city. I’m confident in my team – I had a bad performance in November, I did so many things wrong and I brought in people who are at the top of their professions – strength coaches, nutritionists, psychologists… They’re all on board and I’ve been working with them and I’m confident because of the hard work we’ve done.

“It’s going to be a very hard fight, I know that. I’ll have to go to places I’ve never been but I’m ready for that. I know he’ll be better than anyone I have fought but he won’t be better than everyone I’ve sparred because the sparring I get in New York City is second to none.

“He (Roach) is a world champion and they don’t just give out world titles but I know I’ve got what it takes to beat him if I perform and stick to the gameplan.

“Tyrone, where I come from, that fighting spirit is in us all. Thanks to all the people in Coalisland who’ve supported me all these years – even back to when I was an amateur – I want to bring this world title back home to them.”

Anto Cacace defended his IBO belt against Damian Wrzesinski. Picture: Mark Mead
Anto Cacace fights Joe Cordina for the IBF and IBO super-featherweight titles

ANTO Cacace may be the rank outsider with the bookies for their May 18 rumble but he isn’t the opponent IBF super-featherweight champion Joe Cordina wanted.

Cacace and Cordina (17-0) tangle for the IBF and Cacace’s IBO titles but the unbeaten Welshman makes no secret of the fact that he wanted a higher profile challenge in Riyadh on the undercard of Tyson Fury versus Oleksandr Usyck.

“Anthony Cacace is a bit of a frustrating fight for me, even though I am getting paid very well,” said Cordina.

“Cacace is a good fight – but it’s not the fight people probably wanted or expected.”

Despite his obvious misgivings, Cordina insists that he isn’t taking victory for granted. After Fury-Usyck was postponed he says continued to train and with back-to-back camps behind him warns he will be primed for action when the bell rings in the Saudi capital.

“I am grateful to be in a position where I’ll be on a massive show, one of the biggest in history,” said Cordina.

“I was chasing the other title holders, but it hasn’t happened yet. The thing is, if I can’t get a unification fight in my next fight, I will look to go up a weight.

“I am not getting any younger, and the big money fights are at the weight above me.

“Cacace is a great fighter but if I beat him and don’t get a unification fight, I don’t want to just keep defending my title.”

Lewis Crocker celebrates winning the WBO Inter-Continental Welterweight title in January (Mark Robinson/Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing)

EDDIE Hearn predicts that Lewis Crocker’s collision with Conah Walker on June 22 will be “absolute war” but ‘Croc’ warns that his English opponent has “bitten off more than he can chew”.

The truth of that will be plain to see once the bell rings in Birmingham. Walker was on Crocker’s undercard at the Ulster Hall in January when he dismantled Lloyd Germain – stopping him in the third.

Crocker was just as impressive in the main event. Fresh from his breakout win against Tyrone McKenna late last year, the Belfast favourite knocked out Jose Felix. The one negative was Crocker’s failure to make weight but he is confident that won’t be an issue going forward.

“This fight is a war and it’s going to be toe-to-toe from the first bell,” he said.

“I could easily out-box this guy but it won’t be that way. Conah is in form and in his last two fights he’s looked great. I just believe he’s bitten off more than he can chew this time and I’m just the better fighter.

“Fighters should be taking these type of fights! I’m excited and I can see the dread he has.”

Hearn describes Walker as a “tough son of a gun” and the Englishman certainly is that but he has two losses on his 13-2-1 record against that will concern his coaching team as they prepare to step in against the heavy-handed Crocker.

“For me, one of the best fights that can be made in this country and for Irish boxing, Conah Walker against Lewis Crocker,” said Hearn.

“This fight is an absolute war, well done to both men for taking it. There’s something about Conah Walker - he beat Cyrus Pattinson, then went to Belfast to win as well, he’s a tough, tough, tough son of a gun.

“Lewis Crocker has plans to go on to fight for a Welterweight world championship, he’s one of the biggest punchers in the division. Everyone knows how good Conah Walker is and then you phone up Lewis Crocker and his team and say: ‘Do you want to come and fight an in from guy at 147lbs in his back yard?’ And the answer is ‘yes’ straight away. It’s what we need in boxing. It’s a brilliant fight.”