James Tennyson not making light of British title challenge against Gavin Gwynne

James Tennyson and coach Tony Dunlop are preparing for a British lightweight title shot against Gavin Gwynne
Andy Watters

JAMES Tennyson has already captured belts at featherweight, super-featherweight and lightweight and now the hammer-handed Belfast Kronk fighter is preparing for a crack at the British lightweight title.

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has confirmed that Tony Dunlop-trained Poleglass native Tennyson will take on Welshman Gavin Gwynne (12-1) for the vacant title on May 9, possibly in Cardiff.

‘The Assassin', who lost a challenge for the British featherweight belt back in 2016, is determined to avenge that defeat against Gwynne, who came off second best against former champion Joe Cordina in August last year.

“I was still young when I lost to Walsh and I've matured plenty since then and picked up quite a few titles,” said Tennyson whose experience means he will go into the Gwynne fight as favourite.

“I'd say I probably would be favourite but I don't look at it that way. I'll go to camp, I'll put the work in and I'll go into the fight 100 per cent ready and whether, I'm favourite or he's favourite, it's not really going to change how the fight is going.

“I was underdog against Martin J Ward and quite a few of my friends went over and did a load of bets on me and they all won a brave bit of money – I was a big underdog that night.

“Gavin Gwynne is a tough big lad, he's very tough. He's a come-forward fighter and he's tough, he can take it so it should be a good fight.

“If it is in Cardiff it doesn't matter to me. I've won all my big titles on the road, it's nothing new to me and I'm well used to it now.”

Throughout his career, Tennyson has been hampered by problems with making weight. The Walsh defeat in 2016 was the end of his time at nine stone and losing an IBF world title challenge to Tevin Farmer in Boston in 2018 was the end of the road at super-featherweight.

“I'm doing lightweight really handy,” he said.

“I'm comfortable and I'm going into fights fit and healthy. The weight used to be a big factor and cutting the extra few pounds was affecting my performance. Now that I'm not struggling I can fully focus on the camp, before a lot of focus would have been on cutting weight. I can focus on sparring and my fitness and everything else falls into place nicely.

“Before the Martin J Ward, Tony (Dunlop) was speaking to me about moving up but we got the opportunity to fight Ward and we said: ‘Right we'll take it, it'll be our last shot at super-feather' but after I got the win and I got the offer for the world title fight (against Farmer).

“I'd have been a fool not to take that opportunity. It was a risk worth taking but it was one too many at the weight.”

MTK's latest professional signing Fearghus Quinn certainly wasn't short on options. The 23-year-old former Belleek GAC clubman played minor and U21 football for Armagh and recently qualified from Queen's University with a degree in Finance.

However, boxing is his passion and the reigning Ulster Elite middleweight champion said the opportunity to make a career in the fight game was too good to pass up.

“I can't wait to get going,” said Quinn, who hopes to train at Holy Family ABC with Gerry Storey senior and his son Gerry junior.

“I'm glad to sign with MTK, they're putting on a lot of great shows locally and they are doing a lot for boxing in Belfast and around Ireland so it's good to be in with them and I'm looking forward to getting on some of these big shows.”

The former Camlough ABC star hopes to get his debut “in the next couple of months” and with potential world title fights in Belfast for Carl Frampton (May/June) and Michael Conlan (August) both in the mix for the summer, he has timed his decision to turn over perfectly.

“Nothing has been confirmed yet but hopefully it won't be too far away and I think it'll be a home show,” he said.

“It would be class to get a slot on either one of the big shows, it would be unbelievable. They are both massive shows.”

Quinn was Ulster champion in 2017 and again last year. He'll hope to get three fights before the end of the year and then begin to work his way into a vibrant local middleweight scene that includes the likes of Caoimhin Agyarko, Conrad Cummings, Alfredo Meli, Jason Quigley and former amateur rival Steven Donnelly.

“I think I'm more suited to the pro game than the amateur game and when I got this opportunity I said to myself that I'll put everything into it and see where it takes me,” he said.

“There are easier ways to make a living than boxing but it's something that I enjoy. I love the training and I love the fighting. I could have gone and got a job in finance but further down the line I think I would have regretted it if I didn't go at this fully and give it my all.”

MTK Professional Development Co-ordinator Jamie Conlan added: "We're delighted to welcome Fearghus to the team. As an amateur he was on the Irish High Performance team, he won multi-nations titles and was an Ulster senior champion too, so he's a very good fighter.

"He enters the professional ranks during a fantastic and exciting period for Irish boxing, and we're really looking forward to seeing how he gets on."

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