Boxing

Tyrone McKenna targeting big names after seeing off Anthony Upton challenge

Tyrone McKenna and Anthony Upton do battle during Saturday night's super-lightweight showdown at the SSE Arena. Picture by PA
Neil Loughran at the SSE Arena

TYRONE McKenna is targeting some of the big names in the domestic super-lightweight picture after extending his unbeaten record to 17 following a hard-fought win over the tricky Anthony Upton on Saturday night.

The Belfast man has long wanted a showdown against one of the most controversial figures operating at 140lb, Ohara Davies.

And the brash Londoner’s switch from Matchroom Promotions to Mack The Knife (MTK) – the home of McKenna – earlier this year could leave the two on a collision course in the near future.

The unbeaten Jack Catterall, trained by Jamie Moore, is also in the picture, while McKenna hasn’t ruled out casting the net far beyond these shores.

“I’ve always said I want the big names. I want Ohara Davies, I want Jack Catterall. I respect Jack Catterall but I would love to fight him. I just want the top names,” he said.

“Even Danny O’Connor from America, he’s got the WBC silver title, I’d love to fight him.

I’ve sparred him before, we’re friends but I’d like to make that fight happen. Line them up and sign them up, I want them all.”

McKenna has a fair idea of what’s happening Stateside after spending the early part of his career in the US, making his debut in Atlantic City six years ago before returning home after a further four fights in America.

And that debut win over Anthony Morrison came the year after he had been edged out at the quarter-final stage of the 2011 Irish senior championships by Anthony Upton, so there was plenty of pride at stake when the pair stepped between the ropes at the SSE Arena.

Both hand their moments in a technical 10 round affair, with Upton counter-punching beautifully at times off the ropes, particularly as the fight wore on.

But it was McKenna’s superior work-rate and educated pressure that saw him pull away through the middle rounds before a punishing left hook to the body sent Upton to the canvas in the ninth.

That shot sealed the deal, with referee Marcus McDonnell scoring McKenna a 98-92 winner, and the 28-year-old was happy with his night’s work.

“I was comfortable, I always thought I was winning, I always thought I was controlling it,” said ‘The Mighty Celt’.

“I was pressuring him - educated pressure - and I was landing the better shots. I was getting caught with a couple of silly ones every so often but I thought I was doing too much for him to be winning the rounds.

“Obviously the second last round I caught him with a body shot, hurt him, and after about the fifth everything was gone and he was just trying to survive.”

It was a second career defeat for the Belfast-based Upton - one of three fighting brothers – but considering he only came in at late notice following the withdrawal of Dublin’s Phil Sutcliffe jr, the 26-year-old was far from downbeat afterwards.

“I don’t feel down,” he said, “I’m happy to be performing here in this arena, it’s a pleasure. This is my first big show and look what I did.

“Four weeks I had to train for that with my missus pregnant, she’s about to pop tomorrow, so imagine what I can do with 12 weeks.”

That said, Upton was still kicking himself about the ninth round knockdown that left him needing a knockout in the last.

“I went out and I got caught with a body shot, my own mistake, throwing with him and leaving myself open. When I got back up, I knew he was coming for it again, you saw me catching it and ducking…

“But listen, I’m happy with that.”

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