James Tennyson determined to make his mark in Boston world title rumble with Tevin Farmer

James Tennyson faces IBF super-featherweight champion Tevin Farmer in Boston on October 20. Picture by Hugh Russell.
James Tennyson faces IBF super-featherweight champion Tevin Farmer in Boston on October 20. Picture by Hugh Russell. James Tennyson faces IBF super-featherweight champion Tevin Farmer in Boston on October 20. Picture by Hugh Russell.

WHEN James Tennyson arrived in Boston for the announcement of his fight with Tevin Farmer, the IBF super-featherweight champion’s team didn’t know who he was.

The big-punching challenger from Poleglass in Belfast towered over Farmer whose coach Raul Rivas asked him: “What weight are you fighting at?”

A few awkward glances were exchanged before Farmer informed him: “That’s the opponent” and handshakes ensued ahead of the October 20 rumble at the TD Garden.

“His coach didn’t really seem to know who I was,” Tennyson recalled.

“I think they might have been surprised at how big I was. I was surprised at how small he looked – you would have thought he was a weight class or so below me. I couldn’t believe how small he was.”

Less than five weeks out from his big break, Tennyson is relaxed, focused, confident and leaving nothing to chance. He went through an intensive pads session with coach Tony Dunlop on Monday that showcased his wicked punching power.

“The weight is coming down nicely and the fitness is going through the roof,” he explained.

“I’m sparring away and training hard and everything is falling into place.

“I’ve been been putting the rounds in preparing for 12 hard rounds and my fitness levels are unbelievable.

“I can hold a good pace through the duration of the fight but when I catch him it could be an early night for him.

“I’m a lot bigger and a lot stronger than him so it’s going to be a hell of a night for him – it’s going to be a tough night’s work for him but I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket because he’s a tricky customer so I have to go in open-minded and be prepared for a hard fight.”

Farmer, from Philadelphia, is slick and quick with fast hands and nimble feet. Tennyson is well aware of the threat he poses but he has had excellent preparation for the challenge that will face him in Boston.

Dubliner Declan Geraghty and Martin J Ward were both regarded as superior boxers and Tennyson finished both of them off early when he met them in Irish and Commonwealth/EBU title fights.

“I’ve had similar styles through my last few previous fights – really tricky customers so I’ll be well prepared for Farmer’s style,” he said.

Those fights with Geraghty and Ward were three of the six title encounters Tennyson has crammed into his career so far and that number includes a British featherweight challenge he lost to the experienced Ryan Walsh in April 2016.

“It’s been unbelievable progress and for the short time I’ve been in boxing it’s a lot of experience,” he said.

“It has been a journey, we started at the bottom and now we’re here. I started in the small hall shows and Mark built me up, got me the title shots and built me up in the rankings and now we’re here.”

Farmer (26-4-1) won the IBF version of the super-featherweight title in December last year and made a successful defence in Australia against Billy Dib in August. After spells working as a delivery man for a drinks company, as an electrician’s mate and as a personal trainer, Tennyson has devoted himself to boxing full-time as he prepares to become world champion and secure a financially sound future for his family.

“I did stuff to keep me going and fund my boxing career – if I had to go out and do a bit of work to keep me going in the gym then so be it,” he explained.

“There has been plenty of improvements since I went full-time, you’re able to get back in the gym and work on things and try new things and become the finished article for becoming world champion.”