Boxing

James Tennyson targets lightweight breakthrough in 'clash of styles' eliminator against Craig Evans

James Tennyson takes on Craig Evans at Liverpool's Echo Arena on Saturday night. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Andy Watters

A BRITISH lightweight title shot and a leap into the top 10 of the WBC rankings are the prizes on offer for James Tennyson when he takes on equally-experienced Craig Evans (20-2-2) at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on Saturday night.

Tennyson (25-3) was a British title challenger at featherweight and a world title challenger at super-featherweight before he moved up to the 135lb lightweight limit this year. Now 26, the big-punching ‘Assassin’ has three stoppage wins in 2019 and he captured the WBA International title – the seventh belt of his career – in his last fight, a second round destruction of Atif Shafiq in London.

That brought his total of early wins to 21 (out of 25) and he is the puncher in what will be a genuine clash of styles. Southpaw Evans has won inside the distance just three times in his career but he is elusive and a tidy boxer who beat Dubliner Stephen Ormond last time out to win the WBA International Lightweight title.

Tennyson rates the skilful Welshman whose only losses came against unbeaten Russian Roman Andreev, in Russia, and highly-rated Scott Cardle back in 2015.

“He’s a really good fighter,” said Tennyson.

“He’s very classy, tricky and awkward so, yeah, I’m expecting a tough fight from him. He’s a very game fighter so it will be a tough night.

“It’s a massive fight. There’ll be a British title shot for the winner plus he’s ranked nine in the WBO, I’m 15 with them and 12 with the WBA so the winner is going to shoot right up in the rankings.

“And there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll win. I’ve put a serious amount of work into this camp. I basically had about three days off from my last camp (for the Shafiq fight) so I just picked up from where I left off.

“I’ve been sparring hard and I’ve put the work in so I’m ready. My confidence is sky-high coming in off the back of my last win.

“I’m just looking forward to getting out here now and getting the show on the road and getting the win.”

Tennyson has been stopped a couple of times in his career at elite level. Ryan Walsh felled him with a body shot in a defence of his British featherweight belt and talented IBF super-featherweight king Tevin Farmer did the same in Boston late last year. His move to lightweight came after the Farmer loss and the affable Tony Dunlop-trained 26-year-old says he was a “fully-fledged” lightweight by that stage.

“I’ve never moved up until I was properly tight for the weight,” he said.

“So when I did move up I was nearly fully-fledged at that weight anyway. It was the same when I went up to lightweight, I was getting it tight to make super-feather so I was basically a fully-fledged lightweight anyway. It was just a matter of getting the momentum going and I’ve got a title now and I know there are a lot of opportunities for me at lightweight.”

He knows he has the power to turn the fight with one punch and says he is ready for whatever Evans comes up with on Saturday night.

“He’ll probably be on the back foot, hitting and moving a bit, that’s his style, he’s a tricky fighter,” Tennyson predicted.

“But I’ve heard that sometimes he comes forward and has a go. You don’t know, he could stand in the middle of the ring and have a fight or it could be hit-and-move. But I’m ready for whatever he brings.”

JAMEL Herring predicts that a potential super-featherweight showdown between himself and Carl Frampton – possibly in New York on St Patrick’s Day next year - would be a “great fight”.

Former US Marine Herring, AKA ‘Semper Fi’, is the reigning WBO champion and he defended his title against Lamont Roach in California last weekend. At 34, he is two years’ Frampton’s senior and is strong, durable and has recovered from losing two out of three a couple of years ago to win five on-the-trot including his world title breakthrough against Japan’s Masayuki Ito in May.

“It would be a huge honour (to fight Frampton) considering Carl is a champion I respect,” Herring told The Irish News.

“I also think it would be a great fight.”

Frampton has indicated that he would be interested in a fight with Herring. Victory would make him Ireland’s first three-weight world champion but first he has to get past Tyler McCreary at a catch-weight 128lbs in Las Vegas on November 30.

‘Golden Child’ McCreary is 16-0-1 and a draw against Roberto Castaneda back in March is the only blemish on his record. He responded with another win in his last fight against Jessie Cris Rosales who was the fourth opponent McCreary prepared for due to three withdrawals.

Right hooks

A COUNTY Antrim team will take on a Limerick select in an inter-county showdown at Belfast’s Balmoral Hotel on Saturday night.

There are 20 bouts on a top quality bill, with the first bout getting under way at 6.30pm.

B1 30kg: N Bacon (Saints) v O Plachta; B1 35kg: F McCullagh (McCullagh’s) v I Almansori; B1 31kg: C Killileagh (St Paul’s) v M Quilligan; B2 59kg: L Mulligan (St George’s) v E Ryan; B2 43kg: R Farrell (St Monica’s) v B Casey; B2/3 46kg: C O’Neill (Star) v L Connors; B2/3 45kg: C McNally (St Paul’s) v S Lynch; B3 46kg: O Magennis (Gleann) v J Harty; B3 44kg: J Doherty (Holy Trinity) v T O’Reilly; B3 35kg: B Walsh (Holy Family) v T Casey; B3 59kg: A McIvor (Oakleaf) v L Fitzgerald; G2/3 52kg: S Cowan (Evolution) v N Mongans; B3/4 41kg: P Ward (Immaculata) v A O’Donnell; B3/4: G Brown (Emerald) v JR O’Donnell; G4 52kg: R Brown (Holy Trinity) v R Lynch; B5 49kg: L Nelson (Lisburn) v D O’Neill; B5/6 60kg: J O’Donnell (St George’s) v B Casey; B6 54kg: P Devine (Oliver Plunkett) v L Price; Exh 60kg: J McConnell (Holy Trinity) v J Donovan; Senior 75kg: E Muhid (Dockers) v S O’Brien

THE Ulster Boxing Council is sending an 18-strong Schoolboy team to Solihull on Friday to take on a quality Birmingham Select.

The team will travel on the Friday, box on Saturday and return on Sunday.

Team: F Kilpatrick (Cookstown), A Ritchie (All Saints), D Kelly (Castleblayney), P Carville (Castleblaney), F Duffy (St Joseph’s), K Smith (Holy Trinity), M Carlin (Dunree), K Collins (Dunree), D Magill (Glengormley), J Murkian (Silverbridge), L Hill (St John Bosco, Newry), J Donaghy (Star of the Sea), L Rooney (Star), D McLaughlin (Saints), A Taggart (Ormeau Road), B Stokes (Loughshore), J Harkin (Oakleaf), A McDaid (Raphoe)

Coaches: C Quinn (St John’s), T Leonard (Corpus Christi), C Duffy (St Joseph’s), J Hill (St John Bosco, Newry)

R&Js: J Lowe (St Paul’s), G McGillion (Omagh B&G)

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Boxing