Sport

‘I take my hat off to all the Irish fighters...’ Berlanga sights on McCrory as Hearn dangles Canelo super-fight

Puerto Rican hardman all due respect after head-to-head with Belfast’s McCrory

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Bling in the ring: Edgar Berlanga breaks into song at the final press conference before Saturday night's fight. Picture:: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom. (Ed Mulholland/Matchroom./Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.)

EDGAR Berlanga, diamonds twinkling from his necklace, bracelet, watch and earrings was quiet and respectful at Thursday’s press conference in Orlando.

He has done his homework too.

“Ohhhhhh Ed-gar Ber-lang-aaa,” he sang, mimicking the McCrory chant, after he and ‘The Hammer’ had shared a 30-second face-off which the Belfast man brought to a halt and then, to Berlanga’s surprise, warmly shook his hand and wished him well.

There hasn’t been the trash talk from Berlanga we expected. Whether that’s because he doesn’t need it or it’s because confidence has seeped away we won’t really know until Saturday night.

Eddie Hearn has dangled the carrot of a fight with undisputed super-middleweight king Canelo ‘Alvarez’ in front of Berlanga on May 4 - but only if he beats McCrory in convincing fashion.

“We don’t overlook anybody,” said Berlanga.

“McCrory is a tough guy, he’s coming from Ireland, he’s undefeated and he’s coming from the bottom just like I am and we ready. Every fighter is going to come to try and beat me and we know that.

“I know the competition is getting tougher and we have prepped really well in this camp. We never overlooked him (McCrory) because at this level anything can happen and I understand that as a fighter. The 168lb division, when you put on 10oz gloves anybody can punch so we take the fight very serious and we’re taking him very serious.

“We were trying to reach for the (Jaime) Mungia fight but it didn’t happen so we chose McCrory and we ready.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn originally described this duel as ‘X-rated’ but he has toned that down slightly to ‘shoot-out’ because both fighters can hit and the winner could be the man who lands a clean shot first.

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Handshake: Edgar Berlanga and Padraig McCrory shake hands after a tense head-to-head. Picture: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom. (Ed Mulholland/Matchroom./Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.)

Berlanga says he isn’t interested in Canelo, Mungia or Pacheco or any of the other household names in the super-middleweight division. His sights are firmly set on the man from West Belfast.

“My main focus is McCrory,” he said.

“I don’t give a f**k about Canelo, I don’t care about Mungia… It’s the man across from me here who’s trying to take my ‘0′ so I’ve got to take care of this man and handle my business and then, eventually, I can focus on these other guys.”

The Brooklyn-born ‘Chosen One’ is 21-0 and knocked out his first 16 opponents in the first rounds but he says he has had to earn everything he has achieved the hard way and remains hungry for more.

“I come from the slums,” he said.

“I didn’t have it all nice. When I turned pro nobody wanted to sign me, my first three-four fights were in Mexico. I come from the mud.

“They’re coming, but we’re coming too. He’s Irish, we’re Puerto Rican. We had Katie Taylor versus Amanda Serrano before and I take my hat off to all the Irish fighters out there because they’re tough and they’re coming to fight.”