"He’s very, very dangerous..." Pody McCrory faces fight of his life in WBA world title eliminator

Padraig McCrory fights Brazil’s Yamaguchi Falcao (24-1-1) in a final eliminator at the SSE Arena on May 27. Picture by Mal McCann.
Padraig McCrory fights Brazil’s Yamaguchi Falcao (24-1-1) in a final eliminator at the SSE Arena on May 27. Picture by Mal McCann.

A WBA ranking belt will be presented to the winner but the real prize will be the world title shot that goes with it when Pody McCrory fights Brazil’s Yamaguchi Falcao (24-1-1) in a final eliminator at the SSE Arena on May 27.

The fight hasn’t been officially been announced as yet but it is understood that a delegation representing the Brazilian met Conlan Boxing chief Jamie Conlan in Belfast last week to seal the deal.

McCrory (16-0) is the reigning IBO light-heavyweight champion but the Dee Walsh-trained ‘Hammer’ has returned to super-middleweight to chase a second world title. Beating ‘Gucci’ will pave the way to a fight with WBA champion David Morrell or perhaps pound-for-pound king and undisputed boxing superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the WBA’s ‘super’ champion.

“Jamie has done a brilliant job for me so far,” said McCrory.

“We’ve got the right fights at the right times and I’ve dealt with it every step of the way so far. Now we’re close to getting this one and I’m expecting to deal with it too.

“Yamaguchi is very experienced and a very good fighter. He’s an aggressive southpaw and an Olympic bronze medallist. He beat one of the best amateurs ever in De La Cruz to get that bronze medal and he’s very, very dangerous.

“I think this is a winnable fight for me but I don’t think it’s going to be easy. It’s obviously his biggest fight so far and it puts us in line for a shot at the world title so he will be coming to give everything as well.

“I think it’s a brilliant fight for me, it’s a great opportunity and if you go back five or six years ago, it’s something no-one expected, probably not even myself.”

After missing out on the 2014 Commonwealth Games, McCrory almost gave up on boxing but he returned as a professional in 2017 and over the last couple of years his career graph has gone sharply upward.

Stopping highly-rated Marco Antonio Periban in Belfast last August signalled that he was ready to challenge the best and he kicked on from there by out-classing Leon Bunn in Germany and forcing his way into the mix for this super-middleweight title eliminator.

“It has just grown and grown,” he said.

“I always had a bit of ability but I don’t think anyone really expected me to win a version of the light-heavyweight title and now to have a final eliminator for a WBA title is beyond what I thought was going to happen. It is a Cinderella story.”

As for getting a shot at Canelo, the Mexican is understood to be on the verge of signing to fight England’s John Ryder on this side of the Atlantic so why not McCrory?

“All it takes is for it to fall into place,” said the affable Belfast boxer.

“It’s not unrealistic. If a few things fall right for me and I get one or two big wins there’s no reason why I can’t be fighting him but I have to deal with Yamaguchi before any of that.”


COLM Murphy could be in line to fight for the Irish title on the undercard of Katie Taylor’s Irish professional debut in Dublin’s 3Arena on May 20.

It is understood that unbeaten ‘Posh Boy’ could rematch Liam Gaynor on the Dublin bill. Murphy (7-0) and Gaynor battled it out for the Celtic BUI title at Belfast’s Girdwood Centre last year and are thought to be on collision course again.

In the headline act, Taylor is also expected to be in a rematch with Amanda Serrano although there is also speculation that it could be unbeaten super-lightweight Chantelle Cameron in the opposite corner. Cameron (17-0) is the undisputed champion in the super-lightweight division while Taylor reigns supreme at lightweight.

Michael Conlan and Kurt Walker with Floyd Mayweather
Michael Conlan and Kurt Walker with Floyd Mayweather

YOU’LL see more skilful fighters in action at the Ulster seniors and better tear-ups on any MHD Promotions small hall show, but the boxers on those bills will probably never get close to the millions Tommy Fury and Jake Paul shared.

What does that say about boxing? There have always been novelty acts in the sport and Sunday night in Saudi was just the latest. However, surely the WBC, the governing body that sanctioned the fight, would be better served by rewarding the fighters who are battling their way up the ladder rather than elevating social media personalities to a ranking well above their current levels of ability or experience.

Both men gave it all they had but, in truth, ‘The Truth’ came nowhere near to matching the hype and that was always going to be the case as brawler Paul, who has a strong heart and a powerful right hand but basic skills, and Fury, a novice pro with much more ability, fought out eight rounds in Riyadh.

Mike Tyson was there, Deontay Wilder was there but what atmosphere there was in the arena was created by the Fury contingent (which included Tommy’s half-brother Tyson) and Paul’s trash-talking brother Logan who was given some distasteful air-time between rounds.

Fury was the clear winner of the WBC-sanctioned spectacle despite being dropped in the eighth and final round (half slip/half punch). He won on split decision (two judges went 76-73 for him, the other 75-74 for Paul) which leaves the door open for a rematch.

“For the past two years, this is all that has consumed my life,” said an elated, tearful Fury afterwards.

“Broken rib, denied access, everybody thought I was running scared… Tonight, I made my own legacy. I am Tommy Fury.

“All through these past two years, I had a dream and a vision that I would win this fight. And no one believed me. Now I can stand up and everybody can take note. It’s my first main event at 23 years old. I had pressure on my shoulders and I came through.

“I’m only going to get stronger, and I’m only going to get bigger. There were a lot of nerves going into that fight, but I override that. If he wants a rematch, bring it on.”

It was his fame, not his skills that got him the fight but Paul doesn’t lack confidence or courage and he intends to bounce back from the first loss of his ‘career’.

“All respect to Tommy,” he said afterwards.

“He won. Don’t judge me by my wins - judge me by my losses. I’ll come back and I think we deserve that rematch.”

On a weekend for novelty acts, one-time pound-for-pound great Floyd Mayweather returned to the ring for an exhibition bout with reality TV star Aaron Chalmers. The former Geordie Shore star had Michael Conlan and Kurt Walker in his corner for the fight in London.