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'It feels a lot more comfortable' - Belfast's James Tennyson confident on weight move ahead of British title fight

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James Tennyson (right) and Tevin Farmer during their IBF World Featherweight title bout at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

James Tennyson (right) and Tevin Farmer during their IBF World Featherweight title bout at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

James Tennyson (right) and Tevin Farmer during their IBF World Featherweight title bout at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Far from the madding crowds, Belfast boxer James Tennyson faces a career defining fight next Friday night when he bids to secure the vacant British lightweight title. "This is a must win fight for me," he says.  

It's a case of necessity being the mother of invention as Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn launches an ambition four show programme behind closed doors on a specially constructed stage in the grounds of his Essex estate.

"It will be a lot different from what I'm become used too, " acknowledges 26-year old Tennyson, who despite suffering three knock-out defeats has secured seven professional titles at three different weights.

Tennyson, who unsuccessfully challenged Tevin Farmer for his IBF World super featherweight belt in TD Garden, Boston in 2018, will concede four inches in height to his Welsh opponents Gavin Gwynne.

Gwynne's only career loss came when he previously challenged for the British lightweight title last year but was defeated by another Welsh fighter Joe Cordina. The latter subsequently vacated the 135lb title and is now the WBA continental super featherweight champion.

Tennyson won't be returning to the super featherweight division. He has won his four fights at lightweight inside the distance and the five pound weight difference is a potential game changer.

"It feels a lot more comfortable boxing at the heavier weight. I'm making the weight a lot easier and I'm full of energy and feeling stronger. When I was boxing at feather and super-feather a lot of my training was based around making sure I made the weight."

Having been forced to return home to Monaghan from their base in LA due to the Covid-19 shutdown, the McKenna brothers, Stevie and Aaron have been Tennyson's sparring partners in the Kronk gym in Belfast during his training camp.

"There two strong tough guys and I've had great rounds against them in sparring so I'm in good shape."

Just before the lockdown Tennyson purchased a range of training equipment. "I just set it up at home and was able to train away during the full lockdown. Once Matchroom starting talking about having these shows I was hopeful of getting a fight."

In January Tennyson signed a multi-fight deal with the Eddie Hearn organisation which secured his immediate financial future and probably guarantees him more title fights so long as he keeps on winning.

He is currently ranked 16th in the lightweight World rankings by BoxRec and although current WBA, WBC and WBO lightweight World champion Vasily Lomachenko looks unbeatable, there are still plenty of lucrative lights available in the division provided he doesn't stumble on Friday night.

"I've fought for bigger titles before so as I said this is a must win fight for me because I want to get up to the next level again."

All but four of his 26 professional wins have been achieved inside the distance whereas only two of Gwynne's 12 wins have via knockout so the odds favour Tennyson winning inside the distance.

Normally on the eve of professional fights the boxers only have to worry about making the weight but in the Covid-19 era they have an additional concern.

The fighters involved in the five contests on Friday will arrived at the venue on Tuesday and book into the nearby Holiday Inn Hotel in Brentwood.

They will undergo a Covid-19 test and will then be confined to their rooms until the results of the tests are known. Provided they receive the all-clear they can stay in the hotel – otherwise they have to leave.

The Flight Card will be shown live on Sky Sport on Friday night

Meanwhile, Michael Conlan and Carl Frampton will fight on a BT show in London on August 15. Frampton, who is awaiting confirmation of a title fight against WBO super featherweight champion Jamel Herring, will take on Armenian Vahran Vardanyan, who has won all but two of his 23 fights.

Conlan bids for his fourteenth consequent win when he takes on experienced Frenchman Sofiane Takoucht (35-4-1). Promising Limerick pro Paddy Donovan, who is trained by ex-World middleweight champion Andy Lee, will also fight on the card.

Online Editors