Boxing

Tyrone McKenna all set for "make or break" rumble on Carl Frampton Dubai fight night

Tyrone McKenna has thrown everything into training over the past three months
Andy Watters

DAY after day, week after gruelling week, Tyrone McKenna has shut himself off from his friends and family and pushed himself ferociously hard to prepare for his “make or break” clash with unbeaten Kazakh tough guy Zhankosh Turarov (24-0).

Diet plans, training plans, sparring, morning runs, evening runs, sprints… The west Belfast light-welterweight has thrown everything into getting himself into a shape for Saturday night's WBO Inter-Continental title clash.

He's the underdog and he knows that. He also know that victory will propel him from wannabe to gonnabe and McKenna, a natural showman who has proven himself to be a ring warrior, is determined to grab his chance to shine on the Carl Frampton-Jamel Herring undercard at Caesar's Palace Dubai.

He has spent the last 11 weeks in Dublin, training with coach Pete Taylor and his preparation has included sparring sessions with the McKenna brothers, Aaron and Stevie, as well as Gary Cully. McKenna says coach Taylor “is buzzing” after watching his progress over the last three months.

“He thinks this has been the best camp for me,” he said.

“I've done everything he has asked me, I've had great spars, I'm as fit as I've ever been so he has zero complaints. I hate training, like I proper HATE training, every moment of it, but if I'm there I just think: ‘Why not put it in?'

“So I train twice as hard as most people when I do get to training because I'm there anyway so I may as well make the effort. Normally me and Tyrone McCullagh train together, we push each other and we train very, very hard.

“Saturday night is a massive, massive opportunity for me – it could get me a world title shot. It's a very important fight for me because if I get beat, that'll be two losses in-a-row so there's a lot riding on this fight – it's a make or break fight really.”

In his last fight McKenna was out-pointed by long-term rival Ohara Davies in the final of the Golden Contract competition. McKenna had been criticised for being too gung-ho in previous encounters and switched to a more cautious, boxing style for the Davies clash. It didn't pay off but if he can combine his natural aggression with the stick-and-move ability he showed, the experience of the Davies loss should stand him in good stead on Saturday night.

“I don't really get nerves any more,” he said.

“I got nerves when I was expected to win. There was a lot more pressure on me then but now I'm at a level where there isn't that much pressure on me and I don't feel it. I can go in on Saturday night and perform – I know I'm in with a good fighter, I know it's going to be a hard fight but it's not as much pressure for some reason.

“In these kind of fights I'm the underdog and I love being the underdog. I don't mind it at all, I'm looking forward to it rather than being nervous and fighting in Dubai is a massive, massive stage.

“It's a Carl Frampton show and it's an historic night and to be part of it is just unbelievable. There are going to be a lot of people tuning in to watch it so it'll be a great platform for me to showcase my talent and show how good I am.”

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Boxing