James Tennyson will fight back in new weight division says manager Mark Dunlop

James Tennyson was stopped by Mexican Jovanni Straffon on Saturday night. Picture: Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing.
Andy Watters

A FIGHT with Luke Campbell is a possible objective for James Tennyson when he moves up to the light-welterweight division, says his manager Mark Dunlop.

Tennyson's career as a lightweight came to a disappointing end on Saturday night when the weight-drained Twinbrook native was caught cold by hammer-handed Mexican Jovanni Straffon in a short, but certainly not sweet, IBO title clash in Manchester.

Tennyson opted to meet Straffon toe-to-toe from the first bell and came off second best after a furious exchange that ended after two minutes and 10 seconds of round one. That will be that at lightweight, explained a “devastated” Dunlop as the dust settled on his fighter's fourth career defeat.

“James did a check-weight on the Monday and he was nine stone, 13 pounds – he had to lose another three pounds and there was nothing there (to take off),” Dunlop explained.

“He was hardly eating because he had to keep the weight down and I think it took too much out of him. He just wasn't at the races.”

Tennyson was originally scheduled to fight Scottish veteran Ricky Burns but when he Burns pulled out, unknown quantity Straffon was drafted in. In another example of the dangerous potency of Mexican fighters because of their pedigree and the easy access to top quality sparring in their homeland, ‘Impacto' proved to be much formidable than the Tennyson camp had bargained for.

“We had to run about trying to get an opponent who would take the fight at two weeks' notice,” Dunlop explained.

“Straffon is a digger but you would take the fight all day long because he had three losses and he hadn't really beat anybody of note.”

He added: “We'll take a break for a few weeks now and we're devastated because James should have beat that guy. We're not using the weight as an excuse but he was starving himself all week and Straffon was having a couple of meals a day.

“We knew Straffon was going to come out swinging because he had nothing to lose. We're not using the weight as an excuse but it wasn't good, it wasn't good to watch.”

Tennyson has had to come back from setbacks before and he'll have to do it again now. At 27, he has plenty of time on his side and his handlers are confident that his punching power will be equally effective up at 140 pounds.

“James didn't look focussed on Saturday night, he looked drained so enough is enough,” said Dunlop.

“It's no excuse for losing the fight because the opportunity was phenomenal – he was in the home corner for a vacant title against a guy who could punch and that was his only chance. He came out swinging and stood with James and they hit each other with some tremendous shots but ultimately he landed the better shots. For James to get up was incredible and the referee gave him every chance so we've no excuses, we were beat by the better man on the night.

“It's not like he'll be a small light-welterweight. I'd like to see him get a comeback win and then go in with the likes of Luke Campbell or somebody like that. He's at championship level now and he's still ranked highly.

“It didn't work out for him on Saturday night but I'm proud of him.”

RESULTS over the first four months of 2021 have been hard to stomach for Irish fighters and their fans. We've seen the end of the road come for Carl Frampton and Belfast's other world title challenger James Tennyson has had to go back to the drawing board. Katie Taylor and Michael Conlan continue to press on, but there have been many more lows than highs…

Carl Frampton v Jamel Herring (WBA super-featherweight title)

FRAMPTON took a shot at glory but going up to super-featherweight was a massive step even for him. The Jackal's best days were at super-bantam and his best performance was at featherweight (Santa Cruz 1) and Herring proved too big and too strong on the night in Dubai.

Frampton ticked every box in training and acclimatised well but he couldn't get inside the reach of the under-rated Herring who dropped him twice, first with a straight left and then with a thumping uppercut. The Jackal was stopped for the first time in his career and announced his retirement.

James Tennyson v Jovanni Straffon (IBO lightweight title)

PERHAPS emboldened by his stunning knockout of Canadian Josh O'Reilly in his previous fight, Tennyson went after unknown quantity Jovanni Straffon from the first bell of their IBO lightweight title clash and got involved in a furious slug-out.

He landed a few but Straffon, known for having a good chin and a big dig, took them and landed a few more. Tennyson was wobbled early and put down a minute later. He bravely got back up but referee Michael Alexander stepped in to wave it off with Straffon unloading again.

Sean McComb v Gavin Gwynne (Commonwealth lightweight title)

MERTHYR Tydfil native Gwynne had been brutally beaten by James Tennyson in his previous fight but he bounced back mighty impressively against Sean McComb in February. The contest just came too early for ‘The Public Nuisance' and he was roughed up, looked exhausted and was hurt by Gwynne before he decided enough was enough.

There was speculation that the defeat could have been the end of the road for McComb but he has confirmed that he plans to make a comeback and may switch his training base to Dublin where he will work with Pete Taylor.

Paul Hyland v Maxi Hughes (British lightweight title)

HYLAND had had his fair share of disappointments over a career that had been running smoothly until his first loss to Lewis Ritson. Hyland was 18-0 at that stage and he has been unable to recover the momentum since the defeat.

He trained diligently for a second crack at the title but found Hughes (who has had to recover from his own setbacks) too much for him on the night. The Yorkshireman invited Hyland to get close and then spun off and smashed right hooks into his body. He broke the Belfast fighter down and Hyland, hurt by a bodyshot, had turned his back when Hughes finished him off with a right hook.

Tyrone McKenna v Zhankosh Turarov (WBO Inter-continental light-welterweight)

WEEKS' spent training in Dublin were wasted after Turarov pulled out of his fight with ‘The Mighty Celt' at the eleventh hour. McKenna was looking forward to impressing on the undercard of Carl Frampton's battle with Jamel Herring but didn't get the chance.

Anto Cacace v Leon Woodstock (British super-featherweight title)

CACACE and his team were inconsolable when Woodstock pulled out of the fight just two days beforehand. Promoter Frank Warren revealed on that challenger Woodstock had tested positive for Covid-19 leaving Cacace frustrated and disappointed.

Next up

Friday, May 14 in Manchester

Vacant EBU European Cruiserweight title: Tommy McCarthy (17-2) v Alexandru Jur (19-4)

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