James Tennyson will make it seven (in-a-row) in the seventh, predicts coach Tony Dunlop ahead of world title rumble

James Tennyson trains at the fight hotel with coach Tony Dunlop. Picture: Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing
Andy Watters

JAMES Tennyson has prepared for a 12-round war against Mexican scrapper Jovanni Straffon but his coach Tony Dunlop predicts that Saturday night’s IBO lightweight title battle will be over in the seventh.

Tennyson has knocked out his last six opponents and Dunlop, Tennyson’s coach at the Belfast Kronk Gym in the New Lodge, is confident that his man will extend that streak to seven in the seventh.

“James has knocked his last six opponents out but, for every one of those fights James has trained for 12 rounds – so he is ready for a 12-round war,” said Dunlop, a former Irish international amateur and professional fighter.

“He’s been congratulated for his last six wins and after each one I’ve always said: ‘You think that was good? Wait to you see the next one!’ Every fight he is improving and he is well prepared for this fight. This Mexican comes forward, he is a puncher as his record suggests, he comes forward into the mincing machine but James is in the best condition he’s ever been in and I predict a knockout in about seven rounds.

“He (Straffon) is a really tough, big-punching Mexican but he’s not tough enough and he’ll find that out on Saturday night.”

Veracruz native Straffon may lack the style of some of his more famous countrymen but his all-action battleplan has been effective over the last three years and he has recorded nine wins on-the-trot including seven stoppages.

Despite that consistency, Dunlop is adamant that Straffon will not stop hard-working, dedicated Tennyson from fulfilling his world title dream.

“James has been training all year round for the last three years – he hasn’t really stopped,” he said. “After a fight he takes about five days off. We don’t go all-out all the time, when we start back we start back easier but nobody is in better condition than James Tennyson.

“I don’t have to chase after him, I don’t have to tell him to do anything. He knows exactly what he’s doing and I’m only in the background. He doesn’t short-change himself, he gives 100 per cent and he knows exactly what’s at stake.

“He’s at this game since he was seven years of age and it’s always been his ambition to win a world title. He’s fighting for a version of the world title on Saturday night and he’s going to win it.”

The IBO title may not be the most coveted in the lightweight division but Tennyson’s manager Mark Dunlop insists that it will bridge the gap between the Belfast man and the likes of Teofimo Lopez (WBO, WBC and IBF) and Devan Haney, who defends his WBC belt against Jorge Linares next month.

“We don’t know how good Straffon is but we’ll soon find out,” he said.

“We believe that James is a class above the other lightweights and he is entitled to a big fight. We saw Linares ripped from under him and Devan Haney got that fight. This ‘Fab Four’ (Lopez, Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis and Haney) there’s not one of them who have fought anyone near their age – they’re all being matched against guys that are 34-38; none of them are fighting an up-and-coming young contender like James Tennyson.

“James is 27, he’s fresh as a daisy, he’s learning with every fight and we’ll take that IBO world title and hopefully it will be the key to unification fights. James has worked his socks off and he’s not a big talker but what he does in the ring is what he’s getting paid for and that’s what people are tuning in to watch. They want to see action, not someone running away and you’re going to see a really good fight on Saturday night.”

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