TYRONE McKenna should have been looking forward to an IBO title fight that could have opened the door to a challenge with the best welterweights on the planet. Instead, after Saturday night’s Dublin bill was cancelled last weekend, the Belfast headline act is counting the costs and feels that he is back “in limbo again”.
McKenna was scheduled to fight Nicholas Esposito for the vacant IBO belt at the RDS in Dublin in the top slot on a show that also included heavyweight Thomas Carty, Kieran Molloy, Kevin Cronin, Declan Geraghty, Emmet Brennan and the return of Luke Keeler.
The show’s cancellation is a body blow for McKenna, for the other fighters on the card and for Irish boxing.
“I’m 33 now so I’m not young and being 13 months out of the ring without a fight… It’s very frustrating at this stage of my career,” said McKenna.
“At this stage I should be getting as many fights as I can with as little time out of the ring as possible. It’s just not good enough to be honest.
“No fight in 13 months… I was buzzing for that title fight as well, it would have kicked me on to have big fights after it but now I’m back to the drawing board and I don’t see where I’m going to go now.
“The hard bit in boxing is the camps and the fighting is the fun bit. All I have been doing recently is the hard stuff, the camps. This is the second time in-a-row that I’ve had a fight called off a week before it was supposed to happen.
“It’s frustrating. I’ve got nothing covered – the team tracksuits are £1200, the shorts are £600, the buses that I booked were £400 each deposit… I’ve lost all that money.
“Staying down in Dublin for the last 10 weeks cost a fortune… I’m out thousands and thousands of pounds and I don’t get reimbursed for any of it. It’s a joke.
“That has happened for my last two fights and I haven’t fought in 13 months and you don’t get paid if don’t fight… So I’ve been going 13 months without getting paid.”
Boxing Union of Ireland chief Mel Christle explained that the BUI had cancelled the event because of a breakdown in communication over payment of the full amount of the boxing promoters’ bond and issues with the required paperwork for some of the fights.
Had the bill gone ahead, it is understood that the RDS – which is also hosting an antiques fair on Saturday - had proposed that the event would start at 4pm and that the venue would be fully cleared by 11pm.
How and why the bill was cancelled is of little interest to Tyrone McKenna. He just wants to fight and is hopeful that a new date can be found for his eagerly-waited rumble with Esposito.
“I just need a fight,” he said.
“I’m still eligible for the IBO title so I still want to fight for it, I still want to win the belt. I think Esposito still wants the fight so if we could find a new date in Belfast in October it would be nice. I need a fight ASAP, I’ve trained the last 10 weeks, I’m on the weight and I’m ready to fight so I’d like it to be rescheduled as soon as possible, even if it was in the Ulster Hall. I’d like to get something booked straight away.”
TYSON Fury has opted to face an ageing MMA fighter rather than any of his elite heavyweight rivals but promoter Frank Warren has described the clash of the WBC heavyweight champion and UFC veteran Francis Ngannou in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 28 as “the biggest event I’ve ever been involved with”.
“It’s a crossover event,” insisted experienced promoter Warren.
“You’ve got a guy who is the best in his discipline, he is the heavyweight champion, and you’ve got the man, the lineal champion, Tyson Fury, who has done everything you can ask for in a fighter.
“He’s an undefeated champion, a brilliant boxer and fighter. He can box or he can stand and trade with you. This is going to be something special."
The fight will take place under the official rules of professional boxing. Cameroon-born Frenchman Ngannou fought 20 times in the UFC, winning 17 with 12 by knockout and says he has always dreamt of being a professional boxer.
“I have been dreaming of becoming a boxer since I was a kid,” said the 37-year-old.
“I’m not just going to box; I’m going to box the guy at the peak of the mountain. Usually, I would not pay attention to what is going around. But this thing is so big that I can’t stop thinking about it. History is going to be made.
"It’s something that I didn’t see coming, even though my dream was always there. I always hoped for it to happen some day but I didn’t see it lay out this way as one of the biggest events of the world.
“Nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen, but what I do know for sure is that I’m going to be out there hunting for that guy’s head to take it off. I can guarantee that.”
‘Gypsy King’ Fury said he was “absolutely honoured” to lock horns with Ngannou.
“He’s going to be a very, very good fighting man.
“He’s massive, he’s in shape, he’s going to be a real challenge and it’s something different for me. I’m used to boxing boxers and boxing the head off of somebody but fighting an MMA guy who comes in with a different style is going to be different.
“I can’t wait for it. It’s going to be an absolutely fantastic event. I’m honoured that I’m a part of it and I’m honoured that Francis is a part of it. I’ve got to take my hat off to Francis for his story, where he’s come from, the fight, the grind, the determination and everything he’s put into it to get to where he is.
"I will give Francis the respect that he deserves as a warrior, as a man and as a world champion. He's a big man, he's very strong and powerful and it's in my interest to give it the 100 per cent training in camp and bring in the best sparring possible for me."