James Tennyson to take on Ryan Walsh for British featherweight title

Boxer Alfredo Meli winner of the Eddie Shaw Memorial Trophy for 2016 gets his award from Northern Ireland Secretary of the BBB of C Mr John Campbell at Immaculata ABC in Belfast. Meli is now looking forward to a possible final eliminator for the Commonwealth middleweight title. Picture by Hugh Russell
Andy Watters

JAMES Tennyson’s career took a giant leap forward yesterday when it was confirmed that he will fight Ryan Walsh for the British featherweight title in London on April 30.

Perhaps even more significantly ‘The Assassin’ signed a new deal with Frank Warren Promotions and his rumble with Walsh will be on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders’s first defence of his WBO middleweight title against Max Bursak at the Copper Box Arena.

“I’m buzzing here so I am, I’m over the moon with it,” said Tennyson from London where he signed the deal yesterday.

“I’m ready for the step up, more than ready – this is my time.

“I’m looking forward to getting the job done and getting that title back to Belfast.”

Tennyson currently boasts a 16-1 record and went through 2015 with five inside-the-distance wins, adding the Celtic featherweight title to his Irish super-featherweight strap along the way.

He began this year with another stoppage victory against Antonio Horvatic and his improvement and busy style saw him invited to McGuigan’s Gym to spar Carl Frampton in the build-up to the Frampton versus Scott Quigg super-bantamweight rumble in Manchester.

“It showed the level that I’m at, they wanted me over for a reason,” said Tennyson.

“The last spar, I think there was 15 seconds to go, and I caught him with a left uppercut and cut his eye. There was a bit of a panic in the camp as you could imagine – he’d been in training camp 17-odd weeks and put in a lot of hard work for a big fight and it all came down to the last spar.

“Everyone was on edge but thankfully it all worked out for the best and Carl got the job done. That was the main thing.”

The sparring with Frampton will obviously be good preparation for Tennyson’s British title showdown with Walsh (21-1-1)

The only loss of Walsh’s career came against possible Frampton opponent Lee Selby when they tangled for the British and Commonwealth featherweight titles in 2013. Walsh lost a unanimous decision that night but bounced back to win the British title in September, beating Samir Mouneimne, and has since defended it against Darren Traynor.

“He’s a great opponent and you can’t take anything away from him,” said Tennyson.

“He’s British champion for a reason but I feel like I’m going to come out on top and I’m going to win the fight.”

Tennyson hasn’t fought in London before, but he has seen action in Liverpool and also won in Hungary and Estonia and is looking forward to fighting in the English capital.

“It’s a new chapter of my career and I’m looking forward to it – it’s exciting,” he said.

Lisburn-born Tennyson began his amateur career at Poleglass ABC before moving on to Gleann ABC and then St Paul’s.

An Ireland international he won three Irish titles, five Ulster titles, five Antrim titles and a multi-nations gold in Portugal before switching to the professional ranks three years ago under the tutelage of Tony Dunlop at Belfast Kronk.

Despite the new deal with Frank Warren he has no plans to base himself in London. “I’m going to stay with Tony at the Kronk,” he said.

“Things are good there and there’s no reason to change.”


MC Danny Small was voice of Irish boxing 

THE smoke from a thousand Gallagher Greens hung thick in the air when MC Danny Small cleared his throat at the King’s Hall over 30 years ago.

It was September 28, 1985 and Barry McGuigan was defending the title he’d won against Eusebio Pedroza that summer against Bernard Taylor. This was McGuigan’s homecoming and the joint was absolutely jumping.

Before Small spoke lager-fuelled chaos reigned as the undercard ticked away to the main event but a hush settled as he set the scene for the headline act.

The noise grew to a deafening crescendo as Small introduced the fighters. First Taylor, the challenger, and then:

“In the blue corner, from Clones, making his first defence of his title, the WBO featherweight champion of the world… BAAAARY McGUIGAAAAN.”

The place erupted.

“MC Danny Small giving it the full treatment,” acknowledged BBC commentator Harry Carpenter as the fighters touched gloves and went to work.

Small, the voice of Irish boxing, will be buried today after he passed away last weekend.

He was master of ceremonies for some of the biggest bills ever including McGuigan’s glory nights at the King’s Hall and the ‘Clones Cyclone’ paid tribute to the popular MC.

“I will never forget Danny Small's wonderful fight introduction from my fights in the 1980s,” he said.

“His inimitable voice travelled with me to the top and will forever trigger many happy memories for boxing fans of that era.”

Small refereed the legendary Ulster Hall scraps between Hugh Russell and Davy Larmour and Russell recalled: "Danny was very good, very professional at what he did and he brought a bit of razzmatazz into it. He'll be sadly missed."

Small remained a familiar figure on the Belfast fight scene into the 1990s.

Pat Magee recalls a bit of ‘Norn Iron’ vernacular that brought the house down at the weigh-ins for Ray Close’s second fight against Chris Eubank at Havelock House with legendary US promoter Don King in attendance.

“Danny did MC at the weigh-in,” he explained.

“Ray Close was on the scales first and then Eubank got on. Danny said ‘Chris Eubank, 12 stone dead on’. One of the American’s said: ‘what does dead on mean?’

“Everybody laughed when Danny announced that.”


Burnett blow as Odyssey bill postponed

RYAN Burnett will have to wait a little longer to headline a show in Belfast after the proposed April 30 fight night at the Odyssey Arena was postponed.

Burnett had been pencilled in to headline the bill alongside Tommy McCarthy but promoters Matchroom have decided to reschedule the card.

However, McCarthy’s British cruiserweight title eliminator against Jon Lewis Dickinson will take place in Glasgow on May 21 on the undercard of Ricky Burns’ world title fight against WBA super-lightweight king Michele Di Rocco.

“I think the Burns world title fight has come as a complete surprise to everyone,” McCarthy’s manager Pat Magee explained.

“Di Rocco was to fight in the States but his opponent couldn’t make the weight and they were looking another opponent in the top 15 and Burns was available and the fight will take place in Glasgow.

“I suppose Sky had to make the decision between coming to Belfast or going to Glasgow for a world title fight two weeks’ later. There’s still time to do something in Belfast, maybe in June.

“The rescheduling suits us because Ovill McKenzie fights for the European title on April 30 and if he wins undoubtedly he’ll give up the Commonwealth title that he holds and Tommy’s fight two weeks’ later could be for that title as well.

“In terms of professional boxing, two weeks is no big deal and we’ll have a lot of support in Glasgow.”


Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: