Boxing

Tyrone McKenna intends to hit high note in all-Belfast battle with Anto Upton

Tyrone McKenna takes on Anto Upton at the SSE Arena tomorrow night
Andy Watters

THERE has been a lot of light-hearted chat about whether Nonito Donaire is a better singer than Carl Frampton in the build-up to tomorrow's night interim world featherweight title rumble.

The two former world champions can certainly hold a tune and Donaire agreed with Frampton's assessment that he is more suited to a boy-band style, while ‘the Jackal' is a solo artist.

Questions were thrown at both about their singing at Wednesday's press conference but arguably the best crooner at the top table was unbeaten Belfast light-welterweight Tyrone McKenna.

The childhood star of movie ‘The Mighty Celt' wasn't invited to give the packed Europa ballroom a song, but if he keeps recording wins, the 6'1” southpaw knows that the spotlight will eventually fall on him.

“I can belt out tunes,” he said, with a laugh.

“I'm surprised I didn't get a mention for singing. I'm number one!”

On a more serious note, McKenna faces Anto Upton tomorrow night in an all-Belfast battle which is live on BT Sports and will see the winner kick on towards the higher-echelons of the division. McKenna was originally scheduled to face Phil Sutcliffe junior, but an injury to the Dubliner meant that London-born Upton (17-1) was invited to step in.

“Lucky enough it was four or five weeks ago that the Sutcliffe fight fell through, so I got a good replacement,” said McKenna.

“Anto Upton is a completely different fighter than Sutcliffe and it'll be a completely different fight but it's the same level nonetheless.

“Sutcliffe comes forward, he's all aggression but this will be a more technical battle for the first few rounds anyway. Upton is still a good opponent, it's creating a buzz and it's a good rivalry.

“Everyone loves local rivalries. Domestic fights always create a buzz about the city and this has done exactly that – everyone is very excited about this fight because it's Belfast v Belfast.

“I've had a great camp, a 12-week camp and I've done everything right – I've ate right, I've brought in the best sparring partners that I could have. He (Upton) got a late call-up, I don't know how fit he is but he'd need to be the best Anto Upton if he's going to compete on Saturday night.”

McKenna and Upton met once before – in the Irish seniors - and it was Upton who came out on top by a single point at the National Stadium.

“I wasn't really taking boxing seriously at that time,” said McKenna.

“He beat me in the seniors by one point but I was spending more time in the bar than I was in the gym then.

“I just went down to Dublin for that fight basically, so I'm not going to read anything into that and, anyway, I thought I won. I'm a much improved fighter since then, this is over 10 rounds, we'll be wearing 8oz gloves and I've been training my bollocks off for the last 12 weeks, so I'm a completely different man.”

McKenna had looked superb in his previous two fights (both early wins) when he took on Frenchman Renald Garrido last time out. Garrido proved to be tough and awkward and he took McKenna the distance. ‘The Mighty Celt' says the experience did him good.

“Garrido would have been tough for anyone because he's beaten some top guys and it was a good learning fight for me,” he said.

“On paper this is a step up, but Garrido probably would give me a tougher fight than most people because of the pace he set.

“Saturday night is a step in the right direction and I think it will get me a lot of notoriety afterwards in Belfast. I'm just excited to get it underway.”

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