James Tennyson power will have final say in British title clash against Gavin Gwynne
British Lightweight title: James Tennyson (26-3) v Gavin Gwynne (12-1) (tonight, live on Sky Sports Main Event from 9.30pm)
SMALL hall shows are the lifeblood of boxing but back garden shows are the ‘new normal’ and James Tennyson and Wales hardman Gavin Gwynne do battle in the grounds of Eddie Hearn’s home tonight with the coveted British Lightweight title at stake.
Of course, a ring is a ring, no matter whether it’s in Brentwood, Belfast or Madison Square Garden and the meeting of Tennyson and Gwynne could well rival the headline act - Sam Eggington’s British super-welterweight clash with Ted Cheeseman - for drama.
Tennyson should win it. The Twinbrook native has won seven titles on his way to this fight and, unlike Gwynne, he has fought at this level, and above it, before. Weight issues contributed to losses to Ryan Walsh (British featherweight title) and Tevin Farmer (IBF super-featherweight title).
Technically you’ll see better, but Tennyson is smart and experienced now and he has that ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card: serious punching power. The dynamite in his hands has followed him to lightweight and if he catches Gwynne clean – late or early in the fight – it could be all over for the Merthyr Tydfil hopeful.
Gwynne’s record doesn’t show anything like Tennyson’s stoppage ratio but he is tall and rugged and a well-organised boxer who predicts he’ll win with a late stoppage.
“I’m always going to be the underdog in these fights but there’s plenty of dog in me,” he said.
“This is going to be one hell of a fight.”
Of course Tennyson expects that and after a fight camp at the Belfast Kronk gym with Tony Dunlop he is brimming with confidence himself.
“He’s very confident and he believes he can stop me in the later rounds,” said Tennyson.
“He’s obviously had a great camp and I’m expecting a great fight from him. But I’ve had a great camp too and I’m very confident myself.
“I want to progress and get back to world level but you can’t overlook anyone and I’m focussed fully on Gav. I’ve got a job in front of me and I need to beat Gav before any of that comes into account.
“He’s a tall, tough guy. He’s very durable and he’s got a good engine, he gave a good account of himself when he fought Joe Cordina so I’m expecting a tough night but I’m ready.”
Tennyson’s relaxed mood this week was a contrast to the weight-drained, nervous, quiet young fighter who travelled to London to meet Walsh and to Boston two years ago to take on Farmer. He didn’t perform near his best in either of those title fights but looks much more comfortable at lightweight.
“I feel very relaxed, very fresh,” he said.
“When I was down at featherweight and super-featherweight the weight was killing me from weeks out.
“I’ve been getting up, eating and drinking as normal, and getting on with my sessions. I haven’t been feeling tired or drained or anything like that. I’m fresh as daisy and I’m looking forward to getting in and putting on a show.”
Both fighters will know that the rewards for winning tonight won’t stop with a Lonsdale belt around their waist. Victory will open the door to European and possibly world title opportunities in the future.
“It’s Matchroom’s first big show back and it’s the perfect platform for me to go out and really showcase what I’ve got,” said Tennyson.
“I want to be the top dog in Ireland, topping the big bills. I’ve been at the SSE Arena fighting on a Carl Frampton undercard and it would be a pleasure to top my own bill there some day.”
You’d expect a cagey opening tonight. Gwynne won’t take any chances and Tennyson needs to take his time, settle and box his way into the fight. He may lose some early rounds but ultimately Gwynne, though dangerous, lacks the power to keep him at bay and when Tennyson sees an opening he’ll need to exploit it. If he does, he gets the nod to win this by stoppage and add the Lonsdale belt to his collection.