James Tennyson targets world title shot after stunning London win

Tony Bellew (right) and David Haye during the Heavyweight Contest bout at the O2 Arena, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 5, 2018. See PA story BOXING London. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Andy Watters

JAMES Tennyson's Commonwealth and European title win on Saturday night has to rank as one of the finest victories for an Irish fighter in England.

Tennyson hauled himself off the canvas after a second round knockdown to stop defending champion Martin J Ward at the O2 Arena on the undercard of the Tony Bellew versus David Haye rematch.

The hard-hitting Belfast Kronk fighter admitted he had to “dig deep” to recover, but he took the fight to Ward over the next two rounds and had him down in the fifth before referee Victor Loughlin stepped in to end it with Ward on the ropes and shipping sustained punishment.

“It was a tough battle, he dropped me in the second with a lovely bodyshot and I had to dig deep to get back up from it,” said Poleglass native Tennyson, who will now look to push his claims for a world title shot against WBA champion Alberto Machado.

“I caught him with a left hook and an upper cut (in the fifth). He jumped up quick, he recovered well but I knew I could hurt him as soon as I landed those shots I knew I could get him again. My power got me through it, it got me the win.”

TYRONE McKenna has warned Phil Sutcliffe junior that he “won't last five rounds” when the bitter rivals meet at the SSE Arena on June 30.

Belfast light-welter McKenna and Dubliner Sutcliffe have been at each others throats on social media and were due to fight in April before Sutcliffe was forced to pull out with a knee injury.

Hard-hitting Sutcliffe watched McKenna face Anto Upton instead on the undercard of Frampton-Donaire and was not impressed by his performance.

“At best he got a draw in his last fight, at best,” claimed Sutcliffe.

“Tyrone was shouting my name and acting ‘Billy big balls' but these things happen and you're in the game to fight everyone. The fight is back on now, unfortunately I had to pull out of the last one due to a knee injury which has healed now and hopefully it stays that way through this camp.

“We'll see what happens on the night but after his last performance I wouldn't be reading too much into it.”

Sutcliffe will be giving away more than six inches in height against 6'1” McKenna on June 30, but he says he's well used to that.

“He's a southpaw, he's tall, he's rangy but anyone who fights me is tall – I'm 5'6”!” said the 14-2 Dubliner who has won five out of five in Belfast.

“Anyone I've fought has been taller than me so it won't make any odds.

“He's a decent enough fighter and it's just another fight to me, I want to get it out of the way and move on. I just want to get the fights rolling again.”

Meanwhile, ‘Mighty Celt' McKenna intends to prove he is the best light-welter in the country when he finally gets the chance to tangle with Sutcliffe.

“I promised him I'd take him on any time, any place and anywhere,” he said.

“I got the call and accepted the fight straight away because I'm not scared of any man. I believe I'm the best light-welter in the country and I believe that on the 30th of June I'll prove that.

“There's been a lot of talk between me and him – he's been saying I'm not that good and I should have been beat in my last fight, but that's ridiculous and we all know that.”

Trash-talking in the build-up certainly doesn't phase McKenna. He has traded insults with domestic rivals before and come out on top – but Sutcliffe will definitely test him on June 30.

“This is boxing,” said McKenna.

“I'm always up for fighting and having a bit of banter during the build-up so this is just a normal thing for me. I'm well used to domestic fights and I've had three Dublin v Belfast or Belfast v Belfast fights so I'm used to this.

“He suits me down to the ground. He comes forward, tries to knock you out and he can try his best but it's no going to happen – he's going to get knocked out and I can't see him lasting five rounds.”

DAVID Haye will consider retirement after his career was left in ruins following his dramatic defeat by Tony Bellew.

The former WBA heavyweight champion proved shot beyond doubt when, in their rematch at London's O2 Arena, he was dropped three times before being stopped in the fifth round.

At 37, Haye's punch resistance and once fine footwork was gone, and to the extent that he struggled and became desperate from the moment Bellew landed the explosive right hand that changed their fight in the third round.

He had previously recognised he would have no choice but to retire if he again lost to a fighter who was a light-heavyweight when he was a world champion and at his peak, and will struggle to secure the financial opportunities his reputation once demanded.

Under his new trainer Ismael Salas and until the first knockdown he was winning and had improved on the poor performance he had produced when losing last March.

But, of his future, he told talkSPORT: "I'll have to go back and review exactly what happened then make a decision. It's never good to make a decision when everything is up in the air.

"Tony boxed better than I did, plain and simple, and the better man won.

"Nobody can say they didn't get a good night's entertainment. They definitely got their money's worth, but the better man won on the night, Tony Bellew, so congratulations to him."

Bellew, the former WBC cruiserweight champion, was again considered the underdog but is enjoying the finest run of his career.

Despite struggling until the knockdown, the 35-year-old said: "I was waiting for the perfect moment. I'm a clever cat. Not bad for a fat Scouser. I'm a clever man, I have brains, I have skills. I know what I can do.

"Doubt me now. Doubt me now, you fools.

"You all judge me on aesthetically how I look. You all judge me, just because I am a little fat Scouser."

Bellew had since their first fight suffered the death of his brother-in-law Ashley Roberts, and having also spoken of his desire to fight the great Andre Ward, he said: "(It has been) the most horrible eight months of my life.

"(My wife) is my toughest fight. I said this would be my last one, but I know I have got to keep fighting because I live for nights like this."

His promoter Eddie Hearn added: "If he retires tomorrow, I would be the happiest man in the world. If he wants to carry on then there's some great fights for him.

"But I am just so proud of him and everything he has been through, he deserves so much credit. He really is a great man."

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