Lewis Crocker [12(7)-0] has told Deniz Ilbay [22(10)-2(0)] there is no way he will be giving his WBO European ranking title come March 12.
The Belfast welter has begun to develop a champion’s mindset and determined to hold onto his world ranking when he takes another step up next weekend.
The undefeated Dee Walsh trained puncher takes on the outspoken Ilbay, a fighter known to Irish fight fans after his public spat with Dylan Moran, at the University of Bolton next Friday.
It sees Crocker make the first defence of the belt that he superbly won by stopping Louis Greene last August, and he’s ready to kick on from there.
“I’m a champion now so it’s different. People want to take the belt from me. It’s taken me 12 fights to get that belt and I won’t be letting it go,” he said before pointing out he is on the pathway to bigger titles.
“The end goal is to win even bigger titles, and each fight is a stepping stone to get where I want to be. I’m progressing well enough, and getting right opponents at the right time.”
The fight with Ilbay, a fighter who has shared the ring with pound-for-pound star Terrence Crawford, comes on the back of a career-best performance.
‘The Croc’ stopped Green last time out and claims that victory only served to further boost his confidence.
“It was class to be in the main event in my last fight, and to get a stoppage win as well. He was a big puncher and caught me with his best shots, but I walked through them like it was nothing. It’s helped to build me up and it makes me a better fighter each time I box.”
Crocker seems to have developed a good working relationship with new coach Dee Walsh as have stablemates Padraig McCrory and Owen O’Neill.
All three remain unbeaten and the 24-year-old claims the recent run has worked wonders for confidence.
“My gym went undefeated last year, so confidence in the group is high. Me and my trainer Dee Walsh are getting better and better with each camp as well, and it’s showing that the stuff we’re working on is coming off in the ring.”
Elsewhere on the MTK Fight Night on March 12, Gary Cully squares off with Viktor Kotochigov for the vacant WBO European lightweight title.