FEARGAL MCCRORY has called for the entire county of Tyrone to get behind him ahead of the biggest fight of his life.
Boasting a record of nine wins over the past three years, the Coalisland super featherweight will fight Dubliner Stephen McAfee for the vacant Irish title this Saturday, November 24.
The bout is the headline fight of the 'Celtic Clash 7' card at Good Counsel GAA Club in Drimnagh, Dublin.
The majority of McCrory's fights have taken place in Belfast and the Ulsterman is disappointed that his title challenge won't be. However, he is confident there will be a Tyrone takeover in Dublin this weekend.
McCrory said: “The Boxing Union of Ireland said this fight has to happen in Dublin for some strange reason. It would surely make more financial sense for the fighters to run the bill up here due to my support.
“But don’t get me wrong, we’ll still go and take over his own back yard.”
In McAfee, McCrory faces an undefeated foe and one who is the mandatory challenger for the green belt. That said, while the Dubliner is first in line for the title, McCrory is defiant that he is the far better fighter.
He said:“I watched three or four rounds of him and I wasn’t overly impressed. I don’t want to sound disrespectful, he is a professional boxer and I won’t disrespect him, but I am confident in my ability.”
“I don’t know too much about Stephen to be honest, he’d probably say the same about me but what I do know is that he’s a tough fighter who will have my full attention.
“I hear he was a very good kickboxer but I was also a very good amateur boxer. That could be the difference. I’m not taking my eye off the ball for a second, anything can happen in this sport,” added the former Tyrone Gaelic footballer.
An Irish title would be a great way to round off 2018 which, up to now, has been something of a nightmare year for McCrory.
Following a fight in February, injury and lack of opportunity kept him out for a full eight months before a recent win in Dublin over tough Nicaraguan Brayan Mairena.
“I learned a lot about the sport this year, good and bad," McCrory explained.
“This year has been very frustrating in terms of fights but we’ve stayed focused and trained away to stay in some sort of shape while waiting on dates. I’m excited to get back to business and get the momentum built up again. I was out for a bit with injury, and it was a knee injury so I couldn’t run, I couldn’t even shadow box.”
Looking back on his points win over Mairena, a win which set up the McAfee fight and was followed by a frosty face-off between the pair in the ring, McCrory said: “I thought I did okay, but it wasn’t the best me and I think Stephen McAfee wouldn’t have got the win against him. That fighter was better than Stephen McAfee. I believe if McAfee was to fight Brayan Mairena he would lose. You have to take into consideration I fought that lad after being out for a while.
Irish Title Double Header. Some news to brighten up your Monday. @FeargalMcCrory has confirmed to BUI that he will face Stephen McAfee for the Irish Super Featherweight title on November 24th in Dublin. Carl McDonald is taking on Dylan McDonagh for Irish Super Bantamweight title
— BoxingUnionOfIreland (@boxingunionIRL) October 8, 2018
“He was a very tough wee man. He was solid, took some good shots, and kept coming. I found him wild too, unpredictable with the head, but cute at the same time. I had him going once or twice.
“I hurt him in the sixth but I knew not to jump in because he was tough, fair play to him. I wasn’t out since February so I wanted to get the rounds in. I boxed as I was told.”
With his comeback win in the bag, all roads now lead to the Tyrone invasion this Saturday and a title chance for McCrory, a four-time Irish amateur champion with Clonoe BC.
The 26-year-old professes that a win over McAfee ‘would mean the world to me.’
“ Every fighter wants to win their national title and I would like to add the professional title to my Irish amateur titles,” he said.
This Saturday’s card also features an Irish title fight at bantamweight between Carl McDonald and Dylan McDonagh, a Jobstown derby, and a six-round lightweight war between Crumlin's Martin Quinn and Karl Kelly from Monkstown.
Also due to appear on the undercard alongside O'Leary are Crumlin welterweight Martin Wall, Bray light middleweight Eddie Treacy, Stillorgan middleweight Cillian Reardon, Kilbarrack flyweight Lynn Harvey, Smithfield welterweight Keane McMahon, Navan middleweight Eddie Treacy, and debutants in Kerry heavyweight Kevin Cronin and Limerick lightweight Siobhan O'Leary.