Tyrone McKenna needs career best to beat Carl Frampton stablemate Jack Catterall

Jack Catterall during a press conference ahead of The 'Michael Conlan Home Coming' boxing bill at the SSE arena in Belfast on Saturday night. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

TYRONE McKenna knows he needs a career-best performance to beat Carl Frampton stablemate Jack Catterall tomorrow night, and the Belfast fighter says: “If I wanted ‘easy’ I’d have done a different sport”.

Catterall’s coach Jamie Moore believes the 24-year-old is ready to step up to world title level but to get there he has to get past McKenna and the pair meet for the WBO Inter-Continental light welter-weight title at the SSE Arena on the undercard of Conlan-Dos Santos.

McKenna (16-0-1) took the fight after original opponent Phil Sutcliffe jnr pulled out with injury and he rates 21-0 Englishman Catterall as “a world class fighter”.

“A lot of people have said ‘It’s not an easy fight, you could have gone a different way’ but if I wanted easy I’d have done a different sport,” said McKenna.

“You get nothing easy in boxing. I’ve had a few pull-outs now and they’ve always replaced them with harder fights. I had Anthony Upton – they said he’d be too slick for me. Renald Garrido – they said he’d be too relentless. There were two Dublin guys (Jack Hanney and Sean Creagh) they said would be too strong for me and I beat them all.

“When the phonecall came in for the fight with Jack Catterall I accepted it straight away because I’m not in this game for easy, easy is for the weak, easy is for the unconfident and easy is for people who don’t believe in themselves.

“I believe in myself and I want to be world champion.”

McKenna and Catterall have sparred in the past, but neither made a lasting impression at the MTK gym in Marbella.

“I wouldn’t read too much into the spar, it’s about who turns up on the night of the fight and I believe I’m going to,” said ‘The Mighty Celt’.

“It’s what happens on night that counts and I’m able to adapt to anything. If he wants to box, I can box and if he wants to fight, I can fight. Everyone knows that I love a war but I’d like to box a bit better in this one.

“I’ll have to be switched on for the full fight because Jack is a world class fighter.”

He added: “Jack is a talented fighter and no doubt it’s going to be a tough fight for me, I’m going to have to produce a career-best performance and that’s what I intend to do.

“I’ve worked hard for this fight I’ve been through tough test in my last three or four fights and I think I’m ready for the step up. If I’m not ready then we’ll find out on Saturday night.

“I believe that this is the right move.”

Carl Frampton coach Moore will see the other side of a Belfast fight night in the away corner tomorrow night. Catterall has stopped his last two opponents in the first round and Moore is convinced he will “go on and on” as his career progresses.

“You’ve not seen the best of him yet and over the next three or four years you’re going to see him go on and on,” he said.

“He’s been a dream to work with.

“When you get the opportunity to work with such a talented fighter like Jack is it makes your job 10 times easier. He has been a little bit one-paced in the past and that’s one of the things we have been working on by putting gears in there – knowing when to step it up, knowing when to rest and relax.

“I think Jack is going to take it to a different level, he has shown a massive improvement over the last five months. He is surrounded by good fighters and it brings you on as well.

“I’ve known Tyrone a long time and it’s always difficult situation when you’re up against someone who you know – the first time I was ever in a corner was with Tommy Coyle against Derry Matthews, who I actually trained with myself, so I’m used to it – it’s a sport and, regardless of the winner, we shake hands and move on.

“It’s going to be a great fight and I’m glad the fans will get to see it.”

Yesterday’s press conference saw heated exchanges between several fighters, but Catterall was absolutely composed and focussed.

“I’m excited for the fight,” he said.

“The last two fights have only gone one round so I know Tyrone will be a tough fight and it’ll be a chance for me to showcase what I’ve been working on in the gym and put on a great fight for everybody.

“Height isn’t going to be an issue, there’s always a way to beat somebody and I believe I’ve got the tools to do it.

“You always want the stoppage, but whether it goes the rounds or I stop him I believe I’m going to come out on Saturday night victorious.”

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