Boxing

James Tennyson could have turned it around says disappointed coach Tony Dunlop after Boston heartbreak

Tevin Farmer stopped James Tennyson to retain his IBF World Featherweight title on Saturday night at the TD Garden in Boston
Andy Watters

REFEREE Arthur Mercante had counted to four when James Tennyson began to haul himself up off the TD Garden canvas on Saturday night.

Tevin Farmer, impressive and elusive, had put the Belfast man down in the previous round and another wicked bodyshot had done the damage in the fifth.

One… Two… Three… Four…

Tennyson started to get up but his world title dreams evaporated in a wave of Mercante’s arms. It was all over.

Afterwards, as victorious Farmer called out US rival Gervonta Davis, a “gutted” Tennyson made his way back to his hotel.

He had been unable to get a foothold in the fight but coach Tony Dunlop believes he would have turned it around

“Farmer is a slick boxer and he was going very well, I’d say he was ahead on points at the time,” said Dunlop.

“But James is known for coming back from rough starts so I was confident that he was going to come back.

“He went down from a bodyshot – it was a good punch – but I expected that from Farmer.

“The referee kept coming over after the second round and the third round asking James: ‘Are you alright, are you alright?’

“Sure there was nothing wrong with him.

“Why was he asking him that? I was looking at him thinking: ‘Does he not look alright, he’s in the middle of a world title fight here? Any chance of you getting out of the road and letting us get at this thing?’

“He went down the second time to a bodyshot and he (Mercante) stopped it.

“It was a world title fight, he was still throwing punches back and I think the tide would have turned.

“At four, when James was ready to get up, the referee stopped it and I think it was definitely stopped prematurely for a world title fight.

“If it even had been an amateur senior fight and it had been stopped that way I would called it premature.”

Tennyson has been hurt early in several fights before and he got off to the canvas in the second round to beat Martin J Ward back in May.

Dunlop felt he would have done the same on Saturday night and the Belfast Kronk coach believes that ‘the Assassin’ will recover from the loss and go on to be a world champion.

“James said: ‘I was getting up at four’,” he explained.

“He said: ‘I stretched and then he waved it off but I had plenty left in me’.

“It’s a great learning experience for James, he has fought for a world title and he’s still Commonwealth champion. James Tennyson is 25 and he’s going to be back.

“He’s nowhere near his prime yet and he’ll definitely be back. He’s a big puncher and he fought for the world title but he will end up champion of the world.

“He’s come back from knocks before, he’s very dedicated and he’s improving every day. His manager (Mark Dunlop) gets him the best sparring, I’ve been training him and I know he will be back.

“He has another four good years before he hits his prime.”

Farmer made light of his punching record with a sixth stoppage win in 32 fights.

The ‘American Idol’ looked a class act on Saturday night. He has a tight defence, quick feet and he proved beyond doubt that he can also hit.

“Farmer was that wee bit tricky and I expected that,” said Dunlop.

“But Martin J Ward was the same and James got to him in the end. I expected that to happen, James is a renowned slow starter although he didn’t do too bad in the first round.

“Farmer is a hard man to pin down but through time, over 12 rounds, I fancied James to do it but he never got that chance.

“Coming over here to Boston as an Irish fighter I was hoping for better.

“After the first round I told him to go to the body rather than he head because he wasn’t hitting the guy’s head.

“He got through with a few good uppercuts.

“The last time (against Ward) he was in far more trouble than he was this time and he got back and knocked that guy sparklers.”

Tennyson Round by round

Round one: An uncertain start from Tennyson who tries to feel his way into the fight but Farmer is quicker and busier.

He pumps his jab into the Belfast man’s reddening face and avoids Tennyson counters. Farmer 10-9.

Round two: Still no jab but this is better from Tennyson who walks Farmer down but he is still having trouble landing anything on the smaller man.

Did get through with an uppercut but walked onto a left hook as Farmer finished strongly. 10-9

Round three: Farmer’s punch output and constant movement means Tennyson isn’t able to set himself for his power shots but he closes the distance and smashes in a left hook. Another Farmer round though. 10-9

Round four: Again Tennyson not able to find the target against box of tricks Farmer who is looking increasingly comfortable.

Makes Tennyson miss and then puts the Belfast man down for a count after slamming a left hook into his body. Tennyson does well to survive the round. 10-8

Round five: A straight left backs Tennyson up and Farmer steps back to admire the damage he does with another powerful bodyshot.

The end is only seconds away though and once again it’s a bodyshot that does the damage.

Tennyson up at four but referee Arthur Mercante waves it off with a minute and 44 seconds gone.

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