McKenna brothers will be 'boxing superstars' predicts Mick Hennessy as Jason Quigley nurses broken jaw from Andrade loss
PROMOTER Mick Hennessy’s plan for Monaghan matadors Stevie and Aaron McKenna is quite straightforward: he intends to make them “absolute superstars” of boxing.
Smithborough natives Aaron and Stevie have marched to 13-0 and 10-0 respectively and both will fight for world youth titles in London on December 10. Hennessy predicts that the belts he expects them to win won’t be the last for the dedicated duo.
“When do you get two brothers who are that good?” said Londoner Hennessy, who marks two decades as a TV boxing promoter next year.
“To have two incredible, world-class fighters with so much potential is mind-blowing really.
“I see serious, serious potential there and I’ve seen it with a lot of other top fighters at this early stage in their career.”
Born and raised in south London by Irish parents – his father is from Wexford, his mother is from Ballymena – Hennessy boxed at Lynn ABC where his coaches included his childhood neighbour and friend Mike Costello, formerly of BBC 5Live and now the voice of boxing on DAZN.
A dislocated shoulder ended his career prematurely but he transferred his boxing knowledge and business acumen to outside the ropes and, over almost 20 years, has managed a host of household names including future world champions Tyson Fury, Carl Froch and Darren Barker.
The McKenna brothers will follow in their footsteps, he predicts.
“What I love about Stevie and Aaron is that they’ve got all this talent, this pedigree, this desire, but they’ve got the work ethic to back it up,” he said.
“Normally you see talented fighters but there are flaws. These lads tick all the boxes, they’ve got serious potential to become superstars.
“They’re both quiet lads but their fighting will do the talking and people will love them because of their style – how aggressive they are and how determined they are. People up and down the country and on both sides of the Atlantic know how good they both are.”
Fergal McKenna has been the driving force of his sons’ careers. As Hennessy explains, the astute coach has taken his sons for sparring sessions in house-of-pain gyms from Tijuana, Mexico to Los Angeles as well as throughout Ireland and the UK.
His sons soak up knowledge from every second of every round.
“It doesn’t matter what hell-hole it is or how good or how dangerous the people are, they turn up with their gum shields and gloves and give a great account of themselves,” said Hennessy.
“Fergal is a very underestimated trainer and people will become aware of him worldwide very soon because his boys are nailed on for success.”
He says that the McKenna’s path to stardom is “a long-term thing” and he intends to plot their progress – along with Ricky Hatton-trained Derry native Brett McGinty (4-0) and his own son Michael junior (8-1-1) – precisely.
“If I pick the wrong opponent for them now, they could potentially get turned over so I want to prepare them so they can deal with every style, every size, aggressive fighters, box-fighters, movers…,” he said.
“I want them to be prepared so that when they become world champions they hold onto their titles and have incredible careers. So we’ll start with the youth titles and build on that.
“The hard thing for me is going to be holding them back because they want to fight anyone and everyone right now – my job is to hold them back and get the right fights at the right time for them.”
The most recent Hennessy Sport show in Ireland was Tyson Fury’s Irish heavyweight title win against Belfast slugger Martin Rogan back in 2012. Hennessy says “100 per cent” plans a return to these shores.
“I’m waiting for the right moment because I’ve also got Brett McGinty,” he said.
“I’m big on Brett as well because he’s a very, very accomplished former Irish and international champion and he has an incredible future in the sport.
“With the three boys, I am definitely going to be making a move on Ireland for sure. It’s only a matter of time because they’re all loved in their communities and my son Michael is obviously of Irish heritage and he’s done most of his boxing in Ireland (at St Monica’s ABC in Newry) and is well known there.”
JASON Quigley has revealed that he had his jaw broken in the first round of his ill-fated challenge for Demetrius Andrade’s WBO middleweight title last Friday night.
Quigley had already been put down three times when a one-sided affair was stopped late in the second round after he had proved unable to get a foothold in the fight or a dent in ‘Boo Boo’, now 31-0.
The harsh truth is that Andrade made short work of the Donegal native. Quigley gave the impression of a man who was delighted to be topping the bill as part of a world title fight night but he did not produce what he was capable of.
He can come back wiser for his chastening experience but first has to recover physically and take stock of what went wrong and how he can improve on it.
“I want to apologise to everyone that I didn’t give you more excitement and wasn’t able to put up more a fight. Believe me, I wanted to,” he said.
“I’m hurting most because I didn’t get the chance to show my full worth and give it more. I suffered a broken jaw in the first round and now it’s time to head home, get it sorted and healed. Then we look at what’s next.”
A lifetime’s ambition lasted little more than five painful minutes for Quigley in Manchester, New Hampshire. The majority of the crowd at the SNHU Arena came to support Quigley who said he was disappointed not to have given them more to cheer.
“I feel disappointed, I’m disappointed that it was over so quickly,” he said.
“I was put down, yeah, but it was like a flash knockdown and I felt as if there was a lot more in me and a lot more to give.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t have the time to give more. I feel very disappointed for all of the fans who travelled over and came to support me. They didn’t get a right chance to have a better atmosphere.”
It is understood that visa issues prevented Andy Lee from being in Quigley’s corner and Lee’s place was taken by Wayne McCullough on the night. McCullough’s plans for his fighter came to nothing as wild but effective Andrade blasted him out inside two rounds.
“I’m disappointed with my performance,” said Quigley.
“I was happy with the way things were going. I was doing the things me and Andy had planned on doing. I felt comfortable, I didn’t feel in danger until he landed. Even when I got up, I didn’t feel that I was in trouble.
“I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and having a good time with them over Christmas. I put a lot of time and dedication into this fight. I’m not even going to think about what’s next. I want to spend some time with my family first.”