Tyrone McKenna [16(6)-1(0)-1] was battered, bloodied, and eventually beaten, but put in a showing against top talent Jack Catterall that had people singing his praises.
Dropped twice in the second and again in the fifth, McKenna somehow was the man who finished the stronger on the Mick Conlan Homecoming undercard in Belfast on Saturday night.
A warrior-like performance, McKenna had the SSE Odyssey Arena on their feet and made many commentators change their opinion, now believing him to be a real player on the scene.
A glorious defeat if ever there was one, McKenna is keen to use this going forward and ensure he enjoys many big victories.
‘The Mighty Celt’ notes that “the fact remains that getting beaten isn’t ideal and hopefully it’ll be the last time it ever happens.”
“The feedback has been great and I’m really grateful for it all.”
“Everyone is showing a lot of love. I’ve never had so many messages. Everyone is telling me I’m a warrior, that I proved my level and that they can’t wait to see me fight again.”
Levels is the key word. A big outsider beforehand, McKenna proved he wasn’t out of his depth.
“I surprised a lot of people,” he notes. “A lot of people thought I was going to get blown away. People thought he was way, way, way levels above me.”
“I think it rises my stock, it shows I’ve got balls and I’m not just all talk.”
“Jack Catterall is probably one of the best in the country and he’s going to go on to world titles, I believe. To have a tight, tight fight with him, that shows where I am.”
The Lenadoon southpaw had plenty of praise for his opponent – who is a gym-mate of Carl Frampton under Jamie Moore.
The Englishman’s power was the main attribute for McKenna who said that “I’ll give Jack great credit – nobody has hit me as hard as he did in those first two rounds.”
“When I got hit in the first round I thought ‘Jesus’. He hit like a horse.”
“After that, either I adjusted to it or he got a little weaker, but he’s very good and hard to hit clean in return. He has a weird stance.”
For the fans in Belfast, at least, the fight was not about another good domestic win for Catterall but about a scarcely believable show of guts from McKenna.
Indeed, the display even surprised the fighter himself who admitted that
“I have more courage than I thought. I took some heavy, heavy shots in there and laughed them off and came back.”
“My corner was considering pulling me out at one stage but there was no way I was going to let that happen. I don’t quit, no matter how hard it is.”
“I’ve always known I was tough. In sparring I get battered early and then come on strong. I knew I’d start slowly against Jack and then come in to the fight in the latter stages.”
“I love boxing, I love being the showman, I love being in wars.”
“I’m left with nine stitches and six staples but fights like that just make me want to fight every week.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)