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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Gareth Fullerton

Padraig McCrory vs Marco Antonio Periban: Belfast boxer happy to 'ride the wave' towards title glory

Five years on from his professional debut at the SSE Arena, Padraig McCrory is plotting more glory at the very same venue.

'The Hammer' will look to extend his unbeaten record to 14-0 when he takes on former world title challenger Marco Antonio Periban on August 6.

At 34, McCrory admits he is "riding the wave" in pro boxing. He accepts his career is balancing on a pendulum.

Read more: Tyrone McCullagh announces retirement from boxing

If he keeps winning he will edge closer to a potential world title shot of his own. One defeat and the momentum will swing in a different direction; one of reflection and contemplation.

"I made my pro debut on June 10, 2017 at the SSE. When I look back at how far I have come it has been quite a journey," McCrory told Belfast Live.

"If you had told me back then that I would be world ranked with an international title, and be BUI Celtic champion and fighting on some of the biggest events in Ireland, I wouldn't have believed you. But that's me, I am a bit of a pessimist.

"I realise I was 29 when I first fought as a professional, and I realise I didn't have a big amateur career. So I have had to work hard to get myself in a decent position, and I am on the verge of doing something big in boxing.

"Every time I step up I test myself. I am potentially a defeat away from falling out of the rankings and having to consider what happens next.

"But at the minute I am riding on the crest of a wave and seeing where it takes me. My first fight was at 29, and I thought if I won an Irish title I would be doing okay.

"But I have been Irish number one for the past four years. I am mandated for the European title.

"So after this fight if I get my hands on a European title I will be extremely happy. But I always re-evaluate after each fight and see what can happen next.

"If I win a European title, then I have to work towards getting a world title shot. That is the natural progression and would be something that's on my radar."

McCrory ring return was delayed after sustaining a broken thumb during sparring with Tommy McCarthy. He has now been given the all-clear to return to punching, although he admits he is cautious over the injury.

"The injury is good. I had my last appointment recently and was signed off," he added.

Padraig McCrory knocks Jacob Lucas to the canvas during their fight at the SSE Arena on June 10, 2017 (Getty)

"I was told to be careful for a few days and then I can start some punching. It is the first break I have ever had so it is something new.

"Outside of the infection I had in my knee, it is the worst injury I have had. It does play on your mind, even in training I sometimes hesitate to throw my right hand.

"But hopefully in six weeks' time, after some good sparring, it will be all systems go."

As for August 6, McCrory expects a stern test against an opponent who has mixed it with some of the best. Mexican Periban has shared the ring with former world champions Badou Jack and James DeGale, and also lost to highly-rated Joseph Buatsi.

"He fought for a world title and lost via majority decision, so he is a tough opponent. He has a draw against Badou Jack who was a world champion, and fought James DeGale who was a world champion," McCrory said.

"He also fought Joshua Buatsi who is going to become a world champion, so he has mixed it with the best fighters in the world and fought at a much higher level to me. So it is a step up.

"People always say to me would I like to fight when the crowd is smaller, but I thrive off the crowd and love the noise and support. That drives me on even more.

"I was first on in my debut five years ago. I had plenty of people there for me and they made a lot of noise, but it sometimes gets lost in that big arena.

"But my last fight at the Ulster Hall, the atmosphere was amazing. When I knocked Celso Neves out the noise was incredible.

"This will be that times 10, and it will be amazing. The plan is to win, in dramatic fashion. You don't get paid overtime.

"The SSE has a rich sporting tradition through ice hockey, boxing and other sports. I have watched other people perform there, and now I am part of the occasion and it is very special to me.


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