It takes something special to unite boxing fans in praise these days but Conlan Boxing’s announcement that Belfast rivals Tyrone McKenna and Lewis Crocker had agreed to face off was met with universal approval.
McKenna (23-3-1, 6 KO’s) is the colorful, all action war machine whilst Crocker (17-0, 10 KO’s) is the quiet man with natural one punch power. The welterweight fight will take place at the SSE Arena in Belfast on December 2nd.
“It’s fan friendly styles and a fan friendly fight. Both lads are putting it on the line and it’s them who deserve all the plaudits. It’s very easy to make a fight when both fighters want to do it.
“It’s a fantastic clash of styles and personalities and of career trajectories. It’s fantastic all round,” Conlan boxing C.E.O, Jamie Conlan, told BoxingScene.
Last month, McKenna was scheduled to take on Italy’s Nicholas Esposito in Dublin for the vacant IBO welterweight title. The fight fell through when the Boxing Union of Ireland belatedly decided against sanctioning the show. Realizing that the late fall out provided them with chance to accelerate some longer term plans, Conlan Boxing moved quickly to finalize McKenna-Crocker.
“At the start of the summer we were putting plans in place for both guys,” Conlan said. “We put out what we were looking to do with Tyrone and it came together. Crocker was on a bit of a different run. He was getting settled training with Billy Nelson and people were getting frustrated that he wasn’t having the big fights quickly but we knew there was a big fight for later on this year for him. Whoever won the IBO world title, the winner was going to fight Crocker.
“That fell through. I was looking at different things for Tyrone and Crocker was what first came to mind for December 2nd.
“The fight just sells itself.”
The three defeats on McKenna’s record - to Jack Catterall, Regis Prograis and Ohara Davies - have all come at junior welterweight. The 33 year old should be revitalized having not boxed since last August and will be hoping to find a new lease of life now that he no longer needs to boil his 6ft 1in frame down to 140lbs.
Crocker, 26, has been waiting for an opportunity to breakout. ‘The Croc’ is a ferocious puncher and is well known and highly respected by people involved in the sport but has been waiting for the type of opponent who can catapult him into the mainstream. He couldn’t have found a better dance partner than McKenna, who can reignite his own career by beating one of the most dangerous prospects in the division.
“We were looking at how to build Crocker into a big fight and Tyrone really wanted a big one. This just fell at the right time for everyone,” said Conlan.
“I believe the winner of this to be a real star in Belfast and then they’ll have wider recognition within the wider public. It’s a local rivalry and the two guys are well known in the city. People in the gyms know Crocker. They’ve seen him against fighters who they respect and they’ve seen how he’s done it [won]. People know Tyrone because of how he’s sold himself. He’s flamboyant but he’s always in entertaining fights, regardless of the opponent.
“I believe that whoever wins will have the chance to carry the flag for Belfast boxing but also to become the name on people’s lips further afield and - hopefully - on broadcasters lips."