"It's a good fight, a very good fight..." Kingdom Warrior Cronin looks forward to Celtic clash with Morrissey
IN KERRY Gaelic Football is a religion but Kevin Cronin chose his own way and his path will lead him to the Europa Hotel on Saturday-week (February 4) and a challenge for the BUI Celtic light-heavyweight title.
Milltown born, Tralee-based firefighter Cronin takes on Limerick's Jamie Morrissey for the title (live on TG4) on a bill headlined by local favourite Conor Quinn.
Now 5-0 with two stoppage wins, the 26-year-old made his professional debut in Dublin but has boxed in England, Holland and Spain since. Back on home soil, he's relishing the chance to show what he's all about in Ireland's boxing capital.
His fights up to now have been about learning and feeling his way into the sport against journeymen opponents but at the Europa he's in against a man who wants to win as much as he does and he says that is perfect motivation.
“It gives you the extra boost to step up the training and push a bit harder,” he said.
“It'll be a tough fight but putting a title there makes it easier to get up and go for the long runs in the mornings and drive to Dublin for training in the evenings.
“It makes everything easier to know that there's something on the line, it's more worthwhile than going to fight an ordinary fighter. I know I'm going to have a dangerous opponent in front of me so I have to get up and I have to train hard because, if I don't, I'm going to be found out in there.”
Cronin has sparred with Morrissey (4-0) in the past and knows him well. The Limerick native has seen action in Belfast twice and boxed his way to points wins on both occasions.
“I would take a little bit from the spars but not a whole pile because it was a while ago,” said Cronin.
“He's changed a lot, I've changed a lot and obviously he's going to be making adjustments to what we did in the spars because that (his set-up in the sparring) is what I know about him.
“We've had good, close spars and it'll be a good fight, a very good fight because we have shared the ring and we'll both be changing things up.”
Cronin took up boxing at the age of 10 but stepped away from the sport to put his time into playing GAA with the Milltown/Castlemaine club. At the age of 16 he decided his sporting path lay elsewhere. He returned to the ring and, after a solid amateur career, started his pro career in March 2019.
The Covid pandemic meant he spent 18 months out of the ring but he's had three fights since and in his last appearance, against Ryan Hibbert in England last September, he showcased his stylish boxing quality and totally out-classed his opponent over six one-sided rounds.
“For every child growing up in Kerry, the dream is to play for the county,” he said.
“I liked GAA, I enjoyed it but I didn't love it. I was decent at football but I didn't put the extra-time into it whereas, when I boxed, I'd go to the ends of the earth to be right for it. I had more love for boxing and I wanted to go further.
“I won my titles in the amateurs but this is a different game with smaller gloves, longer rounds, different styles and different ways of approaching a fight.
“My amateur background will help me a bit in this fight but it won't be the be-all and end-all.”
With five fights behind him, Cronin feels the time is right for him to step up in competition and the next challenge, which is always his focus, is Morrissey at the Europa.
He has been lined up for a Celtic title shot before. There was talk of him taking on Taylor McGoldrick for the belt a couple of years' ago but McGoldrick retired. Last year he was matched with Robbie Burke for the title but the Dublin show fell through. It seems it's third time lucky for the ‘Kingdom Warrior'.
“I can't look beyond this,” he said.
“I'll be taking bigger, riskier fights from here on so I can get my world ranking up and get myself in position for these titles but I'm not looking beyond Jamie. For now this is my world title, I have to get this one out of the way before anything else.”
Morrissey has boxed at super-middleweight in the past but, at six foot, Cronin is not a massive light-heavyweight and the Limerick man will have a slight height advantage.
“I'm confident I'll get the win,” said Cronin.
“I'm not over-confident, I know he's going to have his moments and I know there will be times when I have to take a step back, bite down and readjust. I'm not going in with my head up my ass but I wouldn't have taken the fight if I didn't think I could win it and I'm sure they (Morrissey's camp) are the same.
“If I'm in there performing at 100 per cent I'll come out victorious but I've a tough night's work ahead.”
Also on the Europa Hotel card is Ballycastle super-bantam and former World Kickboxing champion
David Ryan who takes on one-time Scotland champ Marek Laskowski.
Tickets are available on Eventbrite or through the boxers
IT'S hard to see the sense in Chris Eubank jnr taking a rematch with Liam Smith for any reason other than money.
Eubank was knocked out by Liverpudlian Smith on Saturday night and the manner in which ‘Beefy' dealt with him surely makes a second meeting equally perilous for the Brighton fighter.
Eubank appeared to be in control for the first three rounds but it only ‘appeared' that way. Once Smith came out from behind his high guard and started throwing back Eubank was blown away and he suffered a career-worst defeat at Manchester Arena.
Eubank has a rematch option and has already confirmed that he plans on meeting Smith again, potentially in the summer. Smith says he'd be happy to do it again.
“I beat him once; I'll beat him twice,” said Smith.
“This has to be right for me on my terms. Obviously the money terms, and we might do it at 157lbs. “He'll sit down with his team to decide if he wants the rematch - if he wants the rematch, I'll give it to him.”
Trained by Declan O'Rourke and Joe McNally at Liverpool's Rotunda Gym, Smith's stablemates include Belfast light-middleweight Caomhin Agyarko.
“We got good options; I'm in a good position,” he added.
“Kell (Brook) said he wants to fight the winner and that's a huge fight. Another is Golovkin. I'm in a good position at 160, as well as 154. Just to get the win, that's all that mattered.
“I can go back to 154 if necessary. We'll see who is available and who is right for me and my team.”