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Plenty of Guts but no Glory -Defeat to Berlanga but Padraig McCrory goes down swinging

He didn’t quite deliver on his ‘shock the world’ promise but Padraig McCrory did earn world boxing’s respect in Orlando on Saturday night.

‘The Hammer’ gave Edgar Berlanga a fight but ultimately ‘The Chosen One’ brought the bigger guns to ‘The Shootout’ and scored a sixth-round knockout at Caribe Royale in Orlando

The Belfast man was competitive in each round and was possibly in the driving seat until he got caught by his fellow knockout artist in the fourth.

Berlanga upped the aggression and the pressure after that shot but McCrory didn’t go into his shell and went out swinging. Indeed, he possibly could have made it further into the fight if he’d played safer but his fighting instinct took over and he didn’t travel to Orlando just to survive.

As it was, he was caught clean loading up from the ropes late in the sixth, hit the canvas and although he got to his feet the towel came in from his corner.

Even to reach this stage for a fighter, who turned over as late as 28, with just an Irish title ambition was deemed the stuff of fairytale – but McCrory was keen for the latest chapter to make for brilliant reading.

The ultimate happy ending will have to wait, although the book certainly isn’t closed on ‘The Hammer’s’ career. The Jamie Conlan managed fighter showed enough to suggest the rest of the story could play out at a high level.

February 24, 2024; Orlando, Florida, USA; Padraig McCrory enters the ring before his fight against Edgar Berlanga at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

The stakes were raised 24 hours before glove off as the fight was confirmed as the final eliminator for the WBA super middleweight title, meaning a fight with Canelo Alvarez was on the line.

Still, Eddie Hearn was putting pressure on his man, Berlanga to produce the kind of sensational display that would create demand for a massive Puerto Rico versus Mexico meeting.

McCrory, certainly didn’t look like he was shouldering any pressure as he smiled his way through the ring walk and the prolonged introductions. And the St James fighter didn’t look out of his depth in the first round, taking full advantage of Berlanga’s reluctance to engage to steal the round.

The Irish half of the fight found his grove earlier and took the stanza without having to break a sweat, much to the delight of the vocal Irish in the building.

Paying respect to each other’s KO history the second was similarly tentative. The home fighter did land a one-two early on although McCrory landed the punch of the round, a left hook off the back of a trademark uppercut opened ‘The Chosen One’s’ eyes.

An elbow thrown in a clinch in the third seemed to spark some life into the fight. Ironically it was Berlanga who seemed angered and he finished the session well with some solid bodyshots.

February 24, 2024; Orlando, Florida, USA; Edgar Berlanga and Padraig McCrory during their fight at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

That strong finish initially didn’t signify a change in the tide, as McCrory brought his jab back into play in the fourth and backed the bookie’s favourite up on occassion.

However, a big left hook as the left the clinch with a minute remaining shook McCrory’s legs. The Belfast fighter did well to keep his feet and had enough about him to avoid falling into any traps as the New Yorker looked to press the action.

Berlanga cut a more confident figure in the fifth, was coming forward and trying to rough ‘The Hammer’ up. Sensing the he could get his first finish in five fights he started pick big shots. He did take some clean from the Irish side of the fight but didn’t looked troubled as McCrory didn’t have the luxury of planting his feet to throw.

The St James showed huge bravery in what turned out to be the last round of the fight, as he looked to ignore the fact he was shaky legs post taking a few big right hands to go to war.

When most would have looked to hold, the St James hero tried to land a home run, swinging big but leaving himself open to be caught clean.

Two uppercuts thrown from the floor missed and the second of the two right hands landed clean did for the Conlan Boxing favourite. McCrory bravely climbed to his feet but Dee Walsh through in the towel affording former Jason Quigley foe to celebrate back-to-back Irish wins with tears of joy.


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