Boxing

'The Hammer' determined to strike as Pody McCrory prepares for defence of WBC belt in Ulster Hall fight night

Pody McCrory will defend his WBC International Silver Super-Middleweight title against Portugese stylist Celso Neves at the Ulster Hall on November 5. Picture by Mal McCann.
Andy Watters

AFTER a career-best win at Falls Park last time out, Pody McCrory will defend his WBC International Silver Super-Middleweight title against Portugese stylist Celso Neves at the Ulster Hall on November 5.

‘The Hammer’ moved to 12-0 by blasting out Russian Sergei Gorokhov in August but he faces a more technical challenge against stick-and-move Switzerland-based Neves who won the Swiss super-middleweight belt back in May.

“It’s a decent fight,” confirmed McCrory.

“It’s a different match-up than my last opponent who was an aggressive, come-forward fighter. Neves is more of a boxer, he’s slick and he’s coming in off a decent win over an unbeaten opponent so he’ll be confident.

“(Beating him) will give me a decent boost in the rankings and I think at this stage of my career it’s important for me to keep busy so if all goes well on the 5th of November I’ll be looking to get another fight towards the end of the year.”

Discussions are ongoing over a show at the SSE Arena in December and McCrory would be keen to be part of that. Of course, there’ll be no shortage of eager fighters hoping to star on the bill but, at a very fresh 33, McCrory has less time than most and wants to kick on with his career.

“All I can do is put my name in the hat,” he said.

“Hopefully I get a big win over Neves and I’ll be on that show. It’s all about the next fight for me but I do realise that I have to have a target and a goal. The main thing is to get this fight over me and, all being well, I’d like to push towards a European or an EBU title.

“After that I’ll hopefully have a decent ranking with the WBC and then I’ll be looking for the biggest fight possible.”

Gorovkhov travelled to Belfast with two losses on his 15-fight record but he had never previously been stopped but McCrory dismantled him on the undercard of Conlan-Doheny and referee Ian John Lewis called it off with over a minute left in the fifth.

“That was the best win of my career,” said McCrory.

“He was coming off beating a guy who was 27-0 and he was no joke. In fairness, I thought I dealt with him well and I think it was a sign with how much I’m improving. My last camp was my best one to date, the sparring went really well and I felt the best I’d ever felt. At the age of 33, I feel that things are only getting better!

“Things went very smoothly, there were no injuries the whole way through the last camp and I was hitting personal bests nearly every week. I peaked at the right time and this camp has been very similar and I’m expecting to be the exact same.”

Ulster Hall line-up

World Boxing Council International Silver Super-middleweight title: Padraig McCrory (12-0) v Celso Neves (8-1-1)

World Boxing Organisation European Welterweight title: Lewis Crocker (13-0) v Artem Haroyan (17-2-1)

Lightweight: Sean McComb (12-1) v Ronnie Clark (21-5-2)

Lightweight: James McGivern (3-0) v Jonny Phillips (5-8)

Super-welterweight: Paul Ryan (1-0) v Damian Esquisabel (4-6)

Lightweight: Sean Gerard Duffy (4-0) v Ed Harrison (2-9)

Lightweight: Cain Lewis (1-0) v Stefan Nicolae (3-27-2)

Middleweight: Fearghus Quinn (3-0) v TBC

Super-welterweight: Daniel Keating (4-0) v TBC

MICHAEL Conlan’s hopes of fighting for the world featherweight title this year have been scuppered after WBA champion Leigh Wood underwent surgery on a shoulder injury last week.

The Nottingham native said he had been managing the injury for a while and “needed to sort it” but won’t fight again until next year. That means his date with Conlan could be pushed back until the spring so a St Patrick’s weekend duel at Madison Square Garden – Conlan fought at the New York boxing Mecca three years’ on-the-trot before the outbreak of Covid-19 – is a possibility.

MONAGHAN brothers Aaron and Stevie McKenna return to action on November 13 at the Coventry Skydome Arena.

Aaron (AKA ‘The Silencer’) McKenna follows up his shut-out victory over Ivica Gogosevic last month which took his record to 12-0 and joins older brother Stevie McKenna (9-0-0, 8) who is lighting in the welterweight division.

The 24-year-old completely out-boxed Moussa Gary last month to win every stanza of their six-rounder and is now within touching distance of his first championship belt. ‘The Hitman’ continues to build momentum towards the clash he wants against Conor Benn next year.

Meanwhile, Dublin will host professional boxing for the first time since February 2019 with the Celtic Clash 13 at the National Basketball Arena as part of a hybrid show with the Siam Warriors Muay Thai.

Boxing Ireland have confirmed that Cavan’s Owen Duffy and Kerry’s Liam Walsh will feature on the show while Jake Hanney and Robert Burke could also be included.

DUBLINER Declan Geraghty will square up to Welshman Kieran Gething (10-2-2) in Newcastle on November 13 as part of an MTK bill headlined by world-ranked Thomas Patrick Ward’s duel with WBA number five Leonardo Padilla.

Stylist Geraghty was a staple on Belfast fight nights until his loss to Marco McCullough back in 2019. That was for the vacant IBF European Super-Featherweight belt and ‘Pretty Boy’ will hope to get back up to that level by taking out Gething who’ll go into the fight unbeaten in his last five.

Undefeated Ward (30-0-1) returns after his win over Edy Valencia Mercado in June as he looks to build on his current rankings of three with the WBO, eight with the IBF and 11 with the WBA and move a step closer to a world title shot.

Standing in his way is fellow highly-ranked fighter Padilla (20-3) with the hard-hitting Venezuelan dangerman attempting to spoil the party and come out on top against the local favourite.

In the co-main event, unbeaten rising star Shabaz Masoud (8-0) has a huge step up in competition, as he goes up against Diego Ruiz (23-3), who previously fought Michael Conlan in Belfast back in 2019.

Joe Laws (10-1) makes his return and rounding up the main card, Joe Maphosa (10-1) meets Adam Yahaya (21-7-2) and undefeated Terry Wilkinson (8-0) clashes with Jordan Ellison for the vacant Northern Area super-lightweight title.

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Boxing