TYRONE McKenna will pay for what he’s had to say, vowed Lewis Crocker, who will battle it out with his Belfast rival in what has all the ingredients of a pre-Christmas cracker at the SSE Arena tomorrow night.
The simmering hostility between the welterweight duellists threatened to boil over again at the weigh-in with McKenna predicting “early retirement” for Crocker who responded with a cut-throat gesture after both had weighed in – Crocker had to remove his underwear to hit 147lbs while McKenna came in at 146.9lbs.
The fight is chief support to Michael Conlan versus Jordan Gill but it could easily have been the main event because there an intoxicating mix of tribal rivalry, a personality clash, contrasting styles, jealousy, animosity, ambition...
McKenna (23-3-1) has layers of experience that Crocker (17-0) doesn’t have. He has been to the top and, although he has three losses on his record, they all came against quality operators.
Is Crocker in that category? He has the potential to be and he will earn his stripes if he deals with McKenna’s intoxicating mix of height, reach, power and in-your-face ‘Berserker’ intensity.
He admits he has thought of very little else but Tyrone McKenna since the fight was made months ago.
“Of course he’s been on my mind,” said Crocker.
“I know what he brings and all the talking he does. He’s a good fighter and we’ll see how it plays out because we don’t know what Tyrone is going to be in there.
“It could be a fight where he’s on the backfoot the whole time trying to keep me off him or it could be me trying to box him or toe-to-toe.”
Crocker’s early fights were over in the blink of an eye. He had a six-fight knockout streak before hand problems took the edge off his power but since he sorted them out he has returned to his power-punching best.
“This is an opportunity I can’t let slip and I won’t let slip,” he said.
“I think I’ll get him out of there and enjoy doing it. I don’t feel anything personal towards him but he’ll have to pay for the stuff he said. It has to be done, there’ll be a bit more spite in there and him saying all that stuff just made me train harder.
“He said something stupid like: ‘He wears crocs on his feet and he’ll slap me on the street…’ It’s one thing fighting in the ring but if we’re going to go at it in the street… You can’t be saying that.
“I’m totally confident anyway – it’s the most confident I’ve ever been going into a fight.”