Boxing

Underdog James Tennyson will bring home world title says Tony Dunlop

James Tennyson starts as the underdog against Tevin Farmer in Saturday night's IBF super-featherweight title rumble in Boston
Andy Watters

THE bookmakers have made James Tennyson a distant underdog for his IBF super-featherweight world title rumble with defending champion Tevin Farmer in Boston on Saturday night.

Philadelphian Farmer is the 1/4 favourite with some bookies while Belfast Kronk-based Tennyson is coming in at 13/5 despite a string of impressive knockout victories in his previous five fights which have landed him the Commonwealth, EBU, WBA International and Irish titles.

Poleglass native Tennyson is of course an unknown quantity in the USA and he was also the underdog in May when he took on defending champion Martin J Ward at the O2 Arena and left the local favourite in a crumpled heap on the canvas with a fifth round stunning bodyshot.

Tennyson’s coach Tony Dunlop has no doubt that ‘the Assassin’ will rip up the bookies’ script at the TD Garden – home of the Boston Celtics – on Saturday night.

“I think James will win this title,” said Dunlop.

“A guy asked me recently: ‘Is he near his peak? James won’t reach his peak until he’s 29 and he’s only 25 now. He hasn’t even started yet.

“This is the start of Tennyson, he is getting stronger and stronger and he has developed into a world class puncher and that’s his best asset with his heart and his stamina. Mark Dunlop has got him this opportunity, looked after him well throughout the last six years.

“He turned pro young and now, at 25, he’s fighting for a world title and he’s favourite to win it, in my eyes anyway.

“James is built for the professional game. He starts off slowly but a 12-round fight is not a problem but he’s had 18 stoppage wins in 22 fights – his fights don’t go too far. It’s like a ‘Rocky’ movie here with James.”

Tennyson was a three-time Irish champion at youth level but turned professional as a 19-year-old and has worked his way up the rankings over the past six years.

At 28, Farmer is already close to his peak. He has followed a similar path to Tennyson but they have contrasting fighting styles. Tennyson, the taller man, is a fighter with power in both hands while Farmer (26-4-1) is a stick-and-move boxer who has scored just five stoppage wins in seven years as a pro.

“Farmer is a very slick boxer,” said Dunlop.

“He has copied – as a lot of fighters do these days – Floyd Mayweather. They’ve all got that Mayweather style that has come down from the likes of Pernell Whitaker.

“He has a slick American style, he’s very talented and he’s a beautiful boxer. He has become the champion of the world even though he had a rough start in the pros (Farmer lost his first to fellow debutant Oscar Santana) and he wasn’t a big amateur. So he has come through the hard way the same as Tennyson.

“It’s like a throwback to the 1950s where they’ve both come up the hard way and now they’re meeting for the championship of the world.

“He’s a boxer and he could outbox James for a period of time but it’s a 12-round fight and as Joe Louis said: ‘You can run but you can’t hide’. He might start off out-pointing James early on – he might – but James will catch up on him.

“We have a few plans, as you have to have when you’re fighting a southpaw, but James will move in and cut him off and, personally speaking, I can’t see the fight going the distance because as time goes on James will catch up on him, the same as he did with Ward.

“James is a natural fighter, a powerful puncher, unbelievable stamina, a heart like a lion and when he catches up with him he’ll finish him.”

Michael Conlan returns to action against former Italian featherweight champion Nicola Cipolletta at the Park Theatre in Las Vegas on Saturday night

JASON Quigley (14-0) takes on Freddy Hernandez (34-9) for the NABF Middleweight title at the Fantasy Springs Casino in California on Thursday night.

The Donegal native – now based in Sheffield at the famous Ingle family gym –will see action for the first time since March when he knocked out Daniel Rosario Cruz in only his second fight in the last 18 months.

Meanwhile, Michael Conlan returns to action against former Italian featherweight champion Nicola Cipolletta at the Park Theatre in Las Vegas on Saturday night on the undercard of Ryota Murata WBA middleweight rumble with Rob Brant.

The Irish pair had originally believed they would be appearing on the same card with Quigley expected to get a world title shot against Murata, but the WBA ruled that the Ballybofey would have to face Brant instead.

A win over the experienced Hernandez will bring that breakthrough fight a step closer and Quigley will be keen to impress in California before travelling to watch Conlan whose last fight was his homecoming win over former world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos at the Odyssey Arena in June.

Elsewhere, Belfast middleweight Caoimhin Agyarko will make his professional debut in Brentwood on Saturday night. The 21-year-old former Holy Trinity ABC fighter is now being trained by Alan Smith and Eddie Lam at the iBox Gym in Bromley, London and will debut on a live BT Sport card headlined by Anthony Yarde’s defence of his WBO Inter-Continental light-heavyweight title against Argentina's Walter Gabriel Sequiera.

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BRITISH lightweight champion Lewis Ritson apologised to his fans after he failed in his bid to win the EBU European title after losing a split decision to Francesco Patera on Saturday night.

The Belgian, who went into the fight in Ritson's native Newcastle as the outsider, finished the fight the stronger and won a European belt for a second time, with two judges scoring 116-112 in his favour.

Ritson was caught by a blow to the body in the fifth round, was hurt again at the end of the seventh and was hanging on in the final 20 seconds of the 10th.

“I want to apologise, it is not the performance I wanted tonight,” Ritson said.

“I was hit with a body shot in the fifth round and I couldn't recover from there.”

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