Thursday 18 July 2019

Aaron McKenna looking for eight wins in-a-row in California as Eric Donovan has first fight outside Ireland

Aaron McKenna.
Aaron McKenna.

Sean McGoldrick

Monaghan native Aaron McKenna has his last professional fight before celebrating his twentieth birthday when he takes on Mexican journeyman Daniel Perales in a welterweight bout in the Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California on Friday night.

McKenna’s older brother Stevie won his second professional fight in the US last week but Aaron is aiming to make it eight on the spin when he steps into the ring for the scheduled four-round bout. The Smithborough brothers, together with their father Fergal, are based in LA.

So far Aaron hasn’t put a foot wrong since making his professional debut in December 2017. The Fantasy Springs Casino is becoming a home from home for McKenna, with the venue hosting four of his previous fights.

Even though Perales is vastly more experienced – this will be his thirtieth pro fight - his record is woeful. He has won only ten of those; his last victory was achieved in 2016 and he has lost ten of his last 11 fights – the other ended in a draw. McKenna’s last fight went the distance but on Friday night he will be aiming for the fifth stoppage win of his career.

Meanwhile, Eric Donovan is likely to face a much more demanding challenge on Saturday night when he fights professionally outside Ireland for the first time.

Unbeaten in his nine pro fights, Donovan, who won the Irish featherweight title in his last contest, takes on Moises Mojica (23), a Nicaraguan-born, Spanish-based fighter.

He has a patchy record of nine wins, seven losses and two draws and was beaten in his last two contests. The fight takes places in the famous York Hall in Bethnal Green in London, and the Kildare native should chalk up his tenth professional win as he continues on his journey to challenge for a European title.

Meanwhile, Donovan’s former Irish amateur team-mate Ray Moylette aims to relaunch his professional career in an all-Irish showdown against Monaghan’s Larry Fryers on July 12 in Boston. Moylette hasn’t fought since losing to Mexican Christian Uruzquieta live on TG4 in December in Castlebar. He recently split with his management team, Assassin Boxing.

A former European amateur champion, Moylette will move up to light welterweight to face Fryers, who is based in New York. Fryers has won four fights in-a-row since suffering a sixth round KO to Russian Nikolai Buzolin on the undercard of one of Katie Taylor’s world title fights in Brooklyn in April 2018.

Already without team captain Joe Ward, who has opted to turn professional, the Irish men’s team competing at the European Games in Minsk has suffered another setback with the withdrawal of the only remaining Olympian on the team, Brendan Irvine. He was ruled out after suffering a freak injury in sparring when he broke a bone in his foot.

The 23-year old, who boxed for Ireland at the Rio Olympics, won a silver medal in the light flyweight category at the inaugural European Games in Baku in 2015.

World champion Kellie Harrington has been named the new captain of the team. Regan Buckley (light flyweight), Anthony Browne (heavyweight) and Dean Gardiner (super heavyweight) will be in action on Friday, while Kurt Walker (bantamweight), Kieran Molloy (welterweight) and Michael Nevin (middleweight) are due in the ring on Saturday.

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