With a perfect 18-0 record, the sky is the limit for Irish super-middleweight Padraig McCrory.
And he will take a major step up in grade on February 24 when he tackles Edgar Berlanga, the WBO’s NABO strap-holder, in Florida.
Win or lose, 2024 should still be a golden year for a fighter with the physical versatility for a strong campaign at either super-middleweight or light heavyweight.
And that could yet lead to some mouthwatering fights against either of those divisions’ best…
Not only is McCroy making a step up in class against Berlanga, but he will also be making his American debut on a card that also features the reigning Olympic lightweight gold medallist, Andy Cruz, in only his third professional fight.
The latest odds on boxing make Cruz a 1/25 favorite to win his bout with Bryan Rodriguez and McCrory a 3/1 underdog against Berlanga, but it only takes one punch for careers to be made and dreams to be shattered – something that the Belfast native is only too aware of.
A regular at Ulster Hall and Belfast’s SSE Arena, McCrory enjoyed one of the finest nights of his boxing career at the city’s Falls Park last August. He outmanoeuvered the talented Steed Woodall, continuing his relatively late blossoming into the professional ranks at the age of 35.
Having bided his time, McCrory is in no mood to limit his ambitions when it comes to potential opponents in 2024.
Cinco de Mayo
As has been his trademark in recent years, Canelo Alvarez is expected to once again fight on or around May 5 to commemorate Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
At the time of writing, his opponent for that date is yet to be named, although the 33-year-old may take on a ‘low key’ name before a possible Autumn bout with Terence Crawford or Jermall Charlo.
It was a route Canelo took in September 2023 when he bested John Ryder before dispatching Charlo’s twin brother, Jermell, making a potential opponent like McCrory not out of the question if the Irishman can get the better of Berlanga – that would be a popular scrap for the large Irish contingent if it took place in New York or Boston.
McCrory also revealed to IFL TV that he was watching the Ryder v Munguia bout in January closely, which the Mexican won via a spiteful TKO in the ninth round. He is another with world title ambitions that the Irishman may have to navigate on his way to the top.
A victory over Berlanga would propel McCrory even higher up the super-middleweight rankings, perhaps even putting him in position for a showdown with the regular WBA champion, David Morrell.
Names like Caleb Plant, Christian Mbilli, and Erik Bazinyan could also be on the menu, while a domestic tussle to savour could see McCrory and Ryder go toe-to-toe in what would surely be an explosive encounter on either side of the Irish Sea.
There are opportunities galore for McCrory then; he’ll be looking to take full advantage in 2024.