Devenish vibes in Dublin Airport but seeing Padraig McCrory win in Orlando would be a real pleasure boys

‘One punch could change it all’ says Belfast fighter ahead of Berlanga showdown

Edgar Berlanga and Padraig McCrory face-off for the first time before they fight at Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando. Picture: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom. (Ed Mulholland/Matchroom./Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.)

DEVENISH vibes at Dublin Airport. A nervy-looking group sitting in the corner of the bar and on the beer at half-seven.

Big sunglasses, ‘beards’, baseball caps...

“Obviously phoney,” I thought, confidently identifying the party as disguised fugitives on the run after last Sunday night’s alleged hi-jinks at the Belfast night spot.

“Getting out of the country until the dust has settled,” I assumed and I was tempted to go over and give somebody’s fake whiskers a friendly tug and reassure them that whatever they got up to in their own leisure time is their own business.

Next thing there’s a boarding call for a flight to Majorca and the whole lot of them are up and away.

“Ok, fair enough,” I thought, spotting their ‘Mickey’s Stag Do’ t-shirts and admitting to myself that maybe I’d got it wrong as I headed for US Customs Clearance and a flight to Orlando via Philadelphia. .

I’m sure there’ll be a few Devenish veterans in the Caribe Royale for Pody McCrory’s big fight on Saturday night and, if there are, they’ll have another memorable night.

The Pleasure Boys grabbed their chance at everlasting fame last Sunday night and McCrory, who has performed (as a boxer) at the south-westerly Belfast venue in the past, gets his chance to do the same this weekend, albeit with less whipped cream about and some clothes on.

Leo Santa Cruz staggers across the ring at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
Leo Santa Cruz staggers across the ring at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York

His fight is the fifth I’ve been to in the States and they’ve all been unforgettable experiences.

Frampton v Santa Cruz in Brooklyn, New York - victory.

Frampton v Santa Cruz II in Las Vegas – defeat.

Tennyson v Farmer in Boston – defeat.

Conlan v Nikitin at Madison Square Garden, New York – victory.

Frampton became a two-weight world champion when he beat Santa Cruz in Brooklyn. He was brilliant that night, at the peak of his powers and he produced the best away performance I’ve seen from an Irish fighter.

The cavernous MGM Grand in Vegas was an unforgettable experience but Frampton lost and, in Boston, James Tennyson was well beaten. The best indoor venue I’ve been to watch any sport in is ‘The Garden’, New York’s boxing Mecca. The action, the noise.... Everything seemed sharper and more vivid there somehow as Conlan hammered his Olympic nemesis into defeat.

Pody McCrory’s forthcoming battle with Edgar Berlanga is the most low key of these trans-Atlantic trips but it is no less intriguing or fascinating.

On his excellent ‘Boxing Asylum’ podcast Steve Wellings, who knows his onions, said he didn’t rate Berlanga but predicted that McCrory’s upright style would suit the New York/Puerto Rican and that the fight would be all over by the midway point. His guests agreed and you can see why because our Belfast super-middleweight needs to find another level to win.

He can though. I’ve tipped against him before only to watch him win comfortably and if sport went according to the pundits’ predictions or the bookies’ odds all the time none of us would bother turning up.

The underdog story gives boxing a special place in the world of sport. McCrory is not expected to win - he’s expected to get knocked out – by the broad-shouldered bully-boy Berlanga but this is his shot at the big time and he knows it won’t come around again.

He has worked so hard to get here. The Troubles meant McCrory grew up in a broken home while his father was an inmate in Long Kesh. A speech impediment made him shy and quiet as a youngster and he floated along in school at the back of the classroom.

He lived in various places and he worked in various jobs. He was hard done by at times and drifted in and out of amateur boxing until he got married, got his act together and began to make the most of a talent that is spearheaded by the punching power that earned him the name ‘Hammer’.

He is 18-0 but is a virtual unknown to Berlanga (who didn’t have it easy himself growing up in Brooklyn) and he intends to cause a shock in the Sunshine State.

“I know I’m one punch away from changing my life,” said the father of three who was face-to-face with Berlanga on Tuesday night.

“If it happens, and I truly believe it is going to, I will go down in Irish boxing history, and on Saturday that’s what is going to happen. I’m so proud of being from Belfast and to go down in history there would mean so much to me.

“Winning this fight changes my life for good, anything that’s happened in the past is irrelevant. My life is great, I’m happily married with three kids, and on Saturday it’s going to get even better. This win opens up massive opportunities, the biggest names, like Jaime Munguia, Diego Pacheco or even ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

“He (Alvarez) is the dream fight for everybody, the money fight, and that’s what awaits me after this fight. He (Berlanga) is looking past me talking about those guys, he’s not worried about me but that’s a big mistake, he’s in for a nightmare.”

As he says, one shot on Berlanga’s chin will win him the fight and bring the house down. To see that would be a pleasure boys...