Boxing

James Tennyson takes on Craig Evans in British lightweight title eliminator

James Tennyson takes on Craig Evans in British lightweight title eliminator tonight. Picture Matt Bohill.
Andy Watters

JAMES Tennyson takes on Craig Evans in a British lightweight title eliminator tonight live on Sky Sports.

Tennyson is always in good fights. Since turning pro as an 18-year-old eight years ago, he has fought 28 times and only heard the final bell in four. 21 times his devastating punching power has finished it early and on the other three occasions he has been knocked out himself.

The aptly-named ‘Assassin' was caught cold early on in his career and the other losses came when he was stopped by Ryan Walsh (British featherweight title fight) and Tevin Farmer (IBF super-featherweight challenge) last year. So he knows what it's like to get knocked down but he has also demonstrated that he knows how to get back up again.

Trained by Tony Dunlop at Belfast Kronk, Tennyson (25-3) has won seven belts so far and beating Evans (20-2-2) tonight will open the door to a potential eighth against reigning champion Joe Cordina (although Cordina has dropped down to super-featherweight so his title may soon be declared vacant).

Southpaw Evans is not a massive puncher but he can take a shot and, as Tennyson says, he is “tricky and tough”. The Welshman had Stephen Ormond down twice in his last fight, a re-run of their 2017 meeting at the Waterfront Hall, and has only been stopped once in 24 fights.

“I'm looking forward to it,” said Evans.

“I've trained hard and I'm feeling good.

“He's a puncher, his record says that. But he's got to land a shot on me first to do the damage.”

That is the challenge for Tennyson. He can bang with the best of them but he cannot solely rely on his power because he learned to his cost against Farmer last year that trying to tee-off with big shots is a recipe for disaster at this level.

“I rushed it against Farmer,” he admits.

“You could say that I was relying the power, stupidly. I was trying to get in there and hurt him instead of taking my time, boxing and working my way in and finding the openings.

“It didn't work and I was also real tight for weight and that affected my performance.”

The Farmer fight in Boston was his last at super-featherweight. Tennyson stepped up to lightweight this year and his progress has been serene with stoppage wins over Garry Neale and Brayan Mairena paving the way for a demolition job on Atif Shafiq which captured the vacant WBA International title.

“I was expecting a real hard night's work against Shafiq and I got him early, the power came through,” said the affable Tennyson.

“Moving up has done me the world of good because cutting those extra four or five pounds off was killing me.

“Now I'm making the weight comfortably and it's not affecting my performance – I'm performing in the fight the way I'm performing in the gym and sparring.”

Tennyson wants to get back up to world title level but, of course, he has to get through Evans first and he is expecting a hard night's work at the Echo Arena.

“It's another great show and another great fight for me,” he said.

“I've got the tricky, tough Evans so I'm expecting a hard night's work but I'm ready, I'm really ready.

“I know he stands between me and some big fights in the future for next year and I want to be up in those sort of fights. Craig is the man in front of me so I need to deal with him on Saturday before I can look forward to anything in the future.”

Evans has an awkward southpaw style so it could take Tennyson a round or two to figure him out tonight. However, he is the bigger man and lightweight suits him better than Evans who looks a more natural super-feather.

The Welshman is a capable boxer but lacks the power to really trouble Tennyson who learned from that Farmer defeat that he has to create opportunities instead of trying to blast his opponent out. Now 28 fights into his career and nearing his peak, the experience and new-found composure make the Belfast man the favourite to win tonight.

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Boxing