Tyrone McKenna putting in hard yards for 'massive step-up'

Tyrone McKenna says he has the skills to beat 21-0 WBO Inter-Continental champion Jack Catterall
Andy Watters

TYRONE McKenna was out on a tough running session in Liverpool’s Everton hills yesterday.

“They’re annoying,” joked the rangy Belfast light-welterweight who has to tackle the biggest hurdle of his career so far when he faces unbeaten Jack Catterall for the WBO Inter-Continental light-welterweight title on June 30.

Chorley born southpaw Catterall is 21-0 with a dozen early wins and has replaced injured Phil Sutcliffe jnr in the opposite corner for the SSE Arena fight night that is headlined by Michael Conlan home debut.

“When I heard about Sutcliffe having the accident, I was panicking thinking I was going to get hit with a lesser opponent. But MTK and BT Sport have pulled it out of the bag and came back with Jack Catterall so I’m even more buzzing for this fight than I was for Phil Sutcliffe,” said McKenna.

“It has the ingredients to be the fight of the night, so I’m excited.

“Everyone in Ireland was buzzing for the Sutcliffe fight but there wasn’t much of a buzz in UK boxing and this is completely different – ever since it was announced my phone has gone insane.

“Everyone has been going mad for this fight and I’ve even seen Tyson Fury tweeting about it and other big names in boxing. That shows you the magnitude of this fight for me, it’s a massive step up and it’s a massive opportunity for me and I’m going to grab it with both hands.”

McKenna and Catterall have sparred previously so ‘The Mighty Celt’ – who out-pointed Anto Upton (also a replacement for Sutcliffe) in April to move to 16-0-1 - knows what to expect on June 30.

“I know he’s strong and he’s a solid boxer,” he said.

“He is slick and he has a good defence so all-round he is very good. I know that and I know I’ll have to be the best Tyrone McKenna on the night to beat him.

“I believe in my skills and I believe I have the skills to beat him.

“I train very, very hard. I put the work in in the gym and I have a great team behind me. Danny Vuaghan has a gameplan and as long as I execute it there’s no reason why I shouldn’t win on the night.

“He’s kind of similar to Sutcliffe except he’s a southpaw so the gameplan hasn’t really changed much.”

There was no love lost between McKenna and Dubliner Sutcliffe and while there isn’t bad blood between him and Catterall, McKenna has been annoyed by some of the WBO Inter-Continental champion’s alleged statements since their fight was confirmed.

“I think he might be overlooking me,” he said.

“I’ve heard a few things that he’s said – that this is a warm-up fight for Terry Flanagan and stuff… I think that will be his downfall. I don’t think he’s taking me as seriously as he should, he’s taking me too lightly and on the night he’s going to find out that I’m a lot tougher than he expects.

“He can say what he wants but he’s in for a shock on June the 30th.

“The WBO Inter-Continental title is the first major belt I’ll go for and that’s motivation enough for me. I respect Jack Catterall, I think he’s a very good boxer but I’m determined to win. I think it’s going to be a very entertaining fight for the fans.”

Charismatic McKenna has a handy knack of attracting attention and the fight is getting plenty of coverage on social media with Londoner Ohara Davies – who has been doing his best to create a grudge match with McKenna – coming out in support of Catterall.

“Ohara Davies hates me, but I just laugh at that,” he said.

“He can say what he wants because it’s good that people are speaking about me whether it’s good or bad. It shows that I’m in their mind and I’m on their radar for these big fights.”

Catterall is equally excited to be on another big stage after his recent outing at Elland Road ended in an underwhelming early victory, when opponent Christopher Sebire appeared to sustain a shoulder injury.

Catterall said: “I’ve only had two rounds in the ring this year but I knew sooner or later I would be involved in a big fight. I was expecting a different opponent but this makes perfect sense.

“I fought just two weeks ago and it wasn’t much of a fight so this is brilliant. I’m in shape anyway and Tyrone was training. Both camps and both fighters want it and that’s great to see.”

BILLY Joe Saunders has withdrawn from his WBO middleweight title defence against Martin Murray through injury.

The fight had been due to be held at London's 02 Arena on June 23.

It is the second time the fight has been postponed this year after Saunders had earlier injured his hand in training.

"Due to injury I had to withdraw from the 23rd, you have your ups in boxing but last 3 months been downs," Saunders said on his personal Twitter account on Sunday.

"Sorry to Martin and the fans, be back soon."

The 28-year-old Saunders, who is unbeaten in 26 fights, would have been making the fourth defence of a title he won in December 2015.

Murray posted a video on social media saying that he had been told the fight was off as Saunders had suffered a hamstring injury.

"I am obviously gutted, but there's nothing I can do," Murray said.

"I just want to apologise to everyone who's bought tickets, booked hotels and train fares, and just say thank you for your continued support and believing in me.

"My management team is working on an alternative, so hopefully I'll have a new date in the next couple of weeks."

TYSON Fury proclaimed himself "the greatest heavyweight of all time" and is making a beeline for Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder in an effort to become top dog in the division once again.

Fury established himself as the number one in boxing's blue riband weight class in November 2015 when he wrenched the WBA, IBF and WBO crowns from the long-reigning Wladimir Klitschko in a stunning upset.

Well-publicised personal issues and an anti-doping case have kept Fury out of the ring since then but he resumes his professional career next Saturday against little-known Albanian Sefer Seferi at the Manchester Arena.

The 29-year-old (25-0, 18KOs) remains the lineal heavyweight champion although Joshua has risen to prominence in his British rival's absence and holds his old belts while Wilder is the WBC titlist.

Fury, though, is supremely confident in his own abilities to the extent that he believes there is no man alive who is able to defeat him, and that he can handle Joshua and Wilder with ease.

He said: "There's been plenty of come forward aggressors throwing big bombs, there's been plenty of boxers on the back foot, but when has there ever been a 6ft 9in switch-hitter with the confidence of Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather rolled into one?

"There has never, ever, ever been anybody like me. I'm unbeaten, I'm fast, I'm brash, I'm young, I'm good looking, I can dance, I've even got white teeth. What more can I have as a fighter, as a boxer, as a sportsman, as a showman?

"I am the greatest heavyweight of all time.”

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