The wider boxing world may just be getting to know Lewis Crocker but around the British gym scene, the dangerous Irishman’s name has been spoken in hushed tones for some time. He was the welterweight to be avoided until the reward and purse were big enough to justify the risk.

Things are changing. Last year, the dangerous Crocker kept his head down, stayed busy and began to work his way up the 147lb rankings. He made a significant breakthrough in December when his victory over Tyrone McKenna took his profile to a new level and on Saturday night, he fights Mexican war horse Jose Felix in Belfast. Crocker enters the New Year with real momentum behind him and if things go to plan, the 27-year-old may just end up as the man his welterweight rivals have to take aim at. 

“Do you know what? If I was a manager or a business person I’d be doing the same.” Crocker told BoxingScene. “If there are easier fights or easier routes to go where you can avoid me, why wouldn’t you? It’s just common knowledge. We’re getting to that stage now where everybody has to fight each other regardless. I’m just focused on worrying about my own career and where I’m gonna go. I’m with Matchroom and DAZN and I’m getting publicity. Who knows what might happen in the next twelve months.”

Timing is everything in boxing and things appear to have fallen into place for Crocker. Had these opportunities come earlier in his career, he may not have been ready to deal with the success and resulting expectation and pressure. Crocker is now entering his prime years. He has been a professional since 2017 and has seen enough of the sport to know exactly what works for him, what doesn’t and what pitfalls he needs to be aware of. His game seems to have gone to a different level since crossing the Irish Sea to start training with Billy Nelson last year. 

“I came to Billy Nelson last April and I’m getting to the position where Billy has me fighting in the best style that I want and everything works well with him,” he said. “I’m in the right position. Everything’s fallen into place. I was on people’s radars but I wasn’t getting the opportunities. I always knew they’d come and here they are. I couldn’t be happier.”

The welterweight division may be about to open up. Despite the IBF’s decision to strip Terence Crawford of their title and upgrade Jaron Ennis, the unbeaten Nebraskan remains the king of the 147lbs division after outclassing Errol Spence last July.

Although Spence activated a rematch clause, as yet there are no indications as to when - or if - the return will actually happen. Crawford has been linked with a move to 154lbs and has even spoken about jumping up three weight classes to take on undisputed super middleweight champion, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Either way, it looks like he has run out of attractive challenges at welterweight. Crocker knows that he is still a couple of fights away from a title shot and realizes the picture could look much different when he does get there. 

“It would leave the belts open,” he said when asked about Crawford moving on. “The routes are different and there are opportunities and big names. Big fights. Hopefully I’m the one who can bring the Carl Frampton nights back to Belfast. Push forward, get a few good wins this year and try and aim for a world title.”