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Headline Act – Padraig McCrory to top SSE Arena Bill

Padraig McCrory [16(9)-0] will top an SSE Arena bill in Belfast on St Patrick’s Day.

The IBO light heavyweight champion will fight Ralfs Vilcans [14(5)-0] in the main event of March 17 card.

The well-informed Irish News report ‘The Hammer’ will drop back down to super middleweight and will headline a Conlan Boxing card on St Patricks Day.

It’s a massive achievement for the Dee Walsh trained fighter, who stopped Leon Bunn in Germany last year to claim the IBO world title at 175lbs.

McCrory turned over late with an Irish title ambition, he has since become one of the more popular fighters on the island and has impressed his way into the world rankings.

The WBA top 5 fighter will now top an arena in Belfast following in the footsteps of huge names like his co-manager Michael Conlan, two-weight world champion Carl Frampton, world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, Commonwealth champion Martin Rogan, European Champion Paul McCloskey.

It’s an indication of both McCrory’s popularity and his standing in the game at present. The 34-year-old’s links to big names increased since his title win with the likes of Joe Smith Jr and more tentatively Canelo being mentioned alongside Rocky Fielding and Jack Cullen as potential foes.

However, it’s the undefeated Latvian, Vilcans is next. Vilcans is somewhat of an unknown and the majority of his wins have played out in his home country but like McCrory, he did move up in weight to defeat a German prospect for a title.

The 28-year-old known as ‘The Train’ beat Nick Hannig to win the WBC light heavyweight International title in 2021, and did so away from home.

Conlan Boxing had March 17 penciled in for a Michael Conlan fight but Belfast on Paddy’s Day must have been rebuffed during negotiations with IBF featherweight world champion Luis Lopez, paving the way for huge night for working-class hero McCrory.

The Conlan Boxing roster including Tyrone McKenna, Sean McComb, Kieran Molloy, Kurt Walker and Fearghus Quinn are all undercard likely, while Conlan Boxing have shown a desire to work with other promoters to make interesting all Irish fights on their cards, ideal for St Patricks Day.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com