The Coalisland and Sallynoggin fighters were set to trade leather in Good Counsel GAA Club, Driminagh on November 24th for the super featherweight belt but news broke yesterday evening that one of the three eagerly anticiapted ‘Celtic Clash 7’ all-Irish bouts had been called off.
Southpaw McCrory [9(3)-0] pulled out after suffering a hand injury as the exciting match up drew closer.
However, speaking to Irish-Boxing.com before the cancellation was officially confirmed BUI Celtic champion and Irish title mandatory McAfee [4(2)-0-1] questioned whether or not that was indeed the real cataylst behind the Tyrone fighter’s decision not to fight.
The kickboxer turned boxing prospect claims he saw fear in the eyes of his would-be opponent before the John Breen and Eamon Magee-trained fighter fought Brayan Mairena in Dublin last month.
McAfee, who remains on the bill, had turned up to study the entertaining MHD fighter and claims his body language when the pair were in close quarters makes him think the 26-year-old was never keen.
“Believe it or not I had a little thought in my head but I pushed it down and kept it to myself,” McAfee told Irish-boxing.com.
“When I went to his fight to watch him, he walked by me and I could see something in his eyes. I could see he thought ‘Jaysus, there he is’.”
“They are saying it is a hand injury but I don’t think so. We are waiting on the medical reports but, look, anyone can get a doctor’s note these days.”
McAfee cuts a laidback characther most of the time and claims he is now just focusing on getting any form of win come on the November 24th card that has mouthwatering domestic clashes in Karl Kelly v Martin Quinn and an Irish super bantamweight title fight between Jobstown duo Carl McDonald and Dylan McDonagh.
However, he did admit he was annoyed his chance to become Irish champion after just six fights has been taken away from him and did call for the BUI to ensure he is next to get a shot a the strap.
“I am a bit pissed off at the end of the day I wanted the Irish title and he has stopped me getting it on November 24th.”
“I should be next in line for the Irish title, 100 percent. I didn’t pull out. I am here ready to fight,” he added before stressing he was growing in confidence as the match up drew closer.
“The closer it got the more confident I was getting. I could see what was going to happen. Camp was going well and the things we were working on were coming off.”
That little bit of extra confidence may have come from the fact the fighter, who has brilliant all Irish experience having twice fought Colin O’Donovan, spent time in Gallagher’s Gym sparring none other than former world champion Anthony Crolla.
The Irish title hopeful’s demeanour changed as soon as the spar and time in Manchester was raised and while he genuinely enjoyed his time in a big gym set up he also claims he took a lot from his time in the ring with the Matchroom favourite.
“It was amazing, to be honest. It was mad,” beamed McAfee.
“You see him on telly winning a world title and fighting the likes of Linares and then you get the chance to spar him in Gallagher’s Gym, such a famous gym.”
“At first I was nervous, more nervous than my fights but then I told myself to enjoy it. I started dancing to the music in the gym and I got in and it was a good spar.”
“Then he asked me to come down again before I got the plane home Sunday and we done another six rounds. It was compliment in my eyes to be asked back down again.”
“He was just like one of the lads, you’d swear I had know him for ages. He was just one of the lads.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)