'Kazakh Killer' Tyrone McKenna ready to go to war in Turarov Dubai rumble
WBO Inter-Continental Super-Lightweight title: Zhankosh Turarov (24-0) v Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1) (tonight, Caesar’s Palace Dubai, live on Channel 5)
WHAT can fans expect from the chief support in Dubai tonight?
“War,” answers Tyrone McKenna, the self-styled “Kazakh killer”.
McKenna is always ready to mix it and he will find Zhankosh Turarov – who was out of boxing for two years after being shot by the Kazakh mafia – happy to oblige.
There are similarities with the main event here but this time it’s the Irishman who has the height and reach advantages. Lanky southpaw McKenna can box when he wants to but he prefers to get stuck in and predicts that Turarov’s 19 months out of action will count against him tonight.
“Our gym is buzzing,” said McKenna, the underdog, who spent the last 11 weeks training at Pete Taylor’s Dublin stable.
“Gary Cully demolished a guy from Kazakhstan a couple of weeks ago and I expect to do the same - we’re the Kazakh killers.
“The silent killer in boxing is inactivity and he’s been out of the ring for 19 months.
“Before that he had two fights and he was out of the ring for two years so he’s had a lot of inactivity in his career and I think that really, really shows. You can’t replicate how you feel in a fight no matter how much sparring and training you’re doing.
“You can’t replicate the intensity and you need to be fighting regularly to get that.”
Turarov has 17 stoppage wins on his record and he honed his fighting skills during three years he spent in Floyd Mayweather’s Las Vegas gym. He insists that his lengthy lay-off will make no difference tonight and predicts he would have won the Sky Sports Golden Contract competition that McKenna took part in – McKenna lost in the final to Ohara Davies.
“All this time I was training and I am in great shape,” said ‘Da Kazakh Kid’.
“I decided that I would not compete in the Golden Contract competition but I am here now and I am coming to win. If I participated in the Golden Contract then there would have been a different champion – it would be me.
“This is a simple fight like previous fights in my career and it will be another win.”
McKenna, a natural entertainer and showman, laughed that off. He is adamant that he’ll have an answer to whatever Turarov brings and says his decision to take “a risky fight” will pay off for him.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say this week that this is a risky fight for me to take,” he said.
“But I want to change people’s thinking. Prospects coming up shouldn’t be afraid to lose their ‘0’. I’ve lost my ‘0’ and I still get chances and opportunities.
“You should take risks because with risk comes reward and nothing comes from ‘easy’. Got out there, take the hard fights, take the fights that entertain fans because that’s how you gather your fan base.
“You take the hard fights, take the chances and, if you get beat, another chance will come. Don’t cherry-pick, fans see through cherry-picking careers and they don’t like watching those fighters. That’s why I’ve chosen Turarov, I think it’s a hard fight, a very hard fight but I chose him because fans want to see entertainment and I’m going to bring that.
“I have a solid chin, I’ve got balls of steel, I’ve got a heart and I’m ready for war. I’m ready for anything he brings.”
Despite being out of action for 19 months, Turarov is the favourite with the bookies and that’s down to McKenna’s last two performances – an unconvincing win over Mohammed Mimoune and the loss to Davies. The Belfast warrior has the tools but, away from home and against the belt holder, he’ll need to produce much better to force an upset win tonight.