Lewis Crocker had thrown himself fully into the Christmas festivities when his phone rang offering him the opportunity to headline against Mexico’s Jose Felix in Belfast this weekend.

In early December, Crocker (18-0, 10 KO’s) turned in a career best performance to outpoint Tyrone McKenna in a heavily hyped Belfast derby but after a couple of weeks enjoying the victory, the unbeaten welterweight found himself on a short flight across the Irish Sea to Glasgow where he spent New Year with his trainer, Billy Nelson, making preparations for his fight with Felix (40-6-1, 31 KO’s).

“That was my fourth fight in six months, and I thought I’d get to enjoy Christmas now. I was thinking the earliest would be mid-February, maybe March time so once I got the call I was surprised but it’s an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I’m glad to be out again,” Crocker told BoxingScene.com.

“Christmas with the family and I got here to Scotland on Boxing Day. It was good to get back here and do you know what? It’s flown by this camp. It’s been a quick turnaround and it’s good to be back in fight mode. I’m buzzing. 

“Hopefully I stay active again this year. I’d like four fights. It’s good to start in January, it starts the year off right for me. It’s only big fights and big fight nights going forward.”

It is little wonder that Matchroom decided to strike whilst the iron was hot and ride Crocker’s momentum into the New Year. The 27-year-old has been a staple of British ‘Hot Prospect’ lists for years but has been waiting for the opponent who could help him realize that promise.

His fight with the colorful McKenna provided him with the ideal opportunity and he took it with both hands.

After an entertaining and tense build up, Crocker proved that he could perform under real pressure and although some may have expected him to make a real statement and stop his city rival, he hurt the rock solid McKenna throughout the fight, showing that he carries his much vaunted power from first bell to last. He also did it all in a crowd pleasing, all action style. 

When Crocker got back to his dressing room and was able to relax and enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet for the first time in months, a sense of relief washed over him.

“Oh, for sure. The relief was because the whole Belfast v Belfast thing was massive. It was a big, big fight,” he said. “A rivalry like that hasn’t happened in forty or fifty years. There was a lot of pressure on that fight so to come out, put on a good performance and get the win.

“My life has changed since then. I’m on a lot of people’s radars now. I’m getting bigger and better opportunities now. I’m looking forward to what 2024 holds. 

“It was better me getting the ten rounds than knocking him out because it showed that I still have that power and it’s gonna do well for me going into this fight because I know I did ten rounds seven or eight weeks ago and felt great. It was a massive night, a massive occasion and hopefully they’ll be more in the SSE going forward where I can be the headliner.”

This weekend, Crocker headlines at the historic Ulster Hall.

Felix is no stranger to Ireland. In 2021 he gave away 4lbs in weight but dragged McKenna into an up and down war before losing a unanimous decision in Belfast. Last May, the Mexican knocked out the heavy handed Gary Cully inside three rounds in Dublin. Whilst Crocker has boxed as high as super welterweight, Felix has never weighed more than 141lbs and ‘The Croc’ has the chance to lay down a real marker by beating somebody who British fight fans are familiar with. 

“He’s coming off a big win against Gary Cully who’s a good fighter and he did it in Dublin too so he’s obviously gonna be confident of another upset going into this fight. It isn’t going to happen,” Crocker said.

“I feel like I’m gonna be the strongest fighter he’s ever been in there with. He’s got a big knockout ratio so it’s gonna be toe to toe. I can’t see it going any other way. I favor myself in that.

“It doesn’t matter [what Felix does] because I’m gonna have an answer for anything anyway. I can box and I can fight. We’ll see what happens on the night.”