Padraig McCrory: IBO world light-heavyweight champion looking forward to fighting in front of home crowd

Recently crowned IBO world light-heavyweight champion, Padraig McCrory, is looking forward to fighting in front of his supporters in Belfast when he returns to the ring at the SSE Arena next month.

The Gleann Amateur Boxing Club member, who trains under Dee Walsh, defeated Leon Bunn in Frankfurt on Saturday, October 22 in front of a passionate travelling contingent of supporters from Belfast and further afield to secure the title.

McCrory, who turned professional in the summer of 2017, had enjoyed a perfect record of 14-0 ahead of the clash in Germany.

The 34-year-old is now gearing up for a pre-Christmas bout at the SSE Arena on Saturday, December 10, on the undercard of the Michael Conlan v Karim Guerfi fight.

Padraig McCrory. (Press Eye).

Speaking to this newspaper, the west Belfast native said: “I haven’t been carried away since winning the world title. I was confident in the ring and I knew I had won it early.

"The instructions I was getting from my team were very good and I am thankful for the support they gave me, along with the people who were there cheering me on.

"I had been due to fight in Galway on the same night of the Bunn fight. I was contacted saying that an opportunity had come up. It was a shot at a world title.

"I checked Bunn out online and I was fairly confident and I decided to take my chance.

"After winning the title, I have plenty of options at light-heavyweight and super-middleweight. I am going to keep improving and taking my chances."

Detailing his preparation ahead of the showpiece in the German state of Hessen, the Ladybrook resident explained: “We arrived on Wednesday and I had a press conference on the Thursday. This was the first time I had seen my opponent in the flesh. I shook his hand and it felt small and this gave me extra confidence going into the fight.”

McCrory, who works as a personal trainer in Finaghy, enjoyed a sizeable support for the contest in Germany.

Thanking everyone who cheered him on, both at the venue and at home, he said: “There were 120 people there cheering me on when it came to my fight.

"Kieran Molloy had brought fans and Kurt Walker from Lisburn had been fighting before me.

"The supporters all got involved and there was just so much energy from the crowd- it was amazing.

"I’d people there from home, Canada, Australia and Austria. With the cost of living crisis and Christmas coming up, money is tight for a lot of people. I feel very privileged that so many people came to support me.”

McCrory, who got involved in the sport at the age of 14 before starting to take it seriously within the last decade, has received plaudits from his contemporaries, including Carl Frampton and the Conlan brothers.

He explained: “The boxing community here is very close. Jamie Conlan was in Frankfurt for the fight. After winning I’ve received nice messages from Frampton, Steven Ward, Paddy Barnes, Paddy Gallagher and Tommy McCarthy- guys I looked up to. It has been very humbling.”

An opponent has yet to be announced for Padraig’s bout in Belfast on December 10, but the champion is looking forward to performing in front of his home city no matter who he is up against.

He stated: “The support I have received in Belfast has always been amazing. Since confirmation came that I was to be on the undercard, I have been inundated with requests for tickets!

"I am looking forward to getting back into the ring and it will be special in front of the home support.”

Offering encouragement to any young fighters, Padraig said: “I wish I had stuck at boxing and I could have been at this stage in my career around five or six years ago. It is my own doing. My main advice to any budding boxers would be to stick at it.

"I was working as a doorman and around six years ago I made up my mind that I was going to give professional boxing a go. I won an Irish title and my boxing was getting better and I was fighting better and stepping up. I was fighting in small halls, but I kept my focus and stayed in the gym and it has all paid off now.

"Carl Frampton is a great role model for any young up and coming fighters. He is a great guy. I have known him for a good while. I followed his career from the early days when he was at the Ulster Hall and then the bigger fights at the Odyssey."

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The father-of-three has his children’s names sewn into his boxing shorts, something that McCrory said helped give him strength in Germany.

Emphasising how his family has supported him, he went on to say: "Personally, my granda played a big part in getting me to this stage. He got me boots and gloves when I was younger and told me to stick at it.

"My kids are everything. Four years ago I dedicated myself to boxing. I want to achieve something in life and boxing has given me that opportunity. Having my children’s names on my shorts was a small reminder and it helped me in the ring. I just want them to be proud of me.”