The Garden on a Cotto undercard – Irish teen ready for dream debut

Aaron McKenna gets a taste of the big time earlier than expected in more ways than one when he debuts tomorrow night.

Fighting at Madison Square Garden is an ambition most fighters only realise after building a reputation as a talent over a number of years, but the Monaghan native will debut in the famous New York venue.

At just 18 years of age he will have ticked an item, that is still a dream of many high-profile punchers, off the bucket list.

Even more exciting for the welterweight, nicknamed ‘Silencer,’ his clash with Victor Eddy Gaytan [2(1)-3(0)] plays out on a Miguel Cotto undercard. The future Hall of Famer looks set to bow out from the game in a World title fight with Sadam Ali and the Irish teen gets to play a part in the massive event. 

McKenna admits it’s a dream come true. It’s something that hasn’t sunk in just yet and you get the sense he is honoured to be following in the footsteps of some of the greatest ever to grace a ring.

“It is unbelievable! It will only really sink in when I have completed the task in hand,” an excited McKenna told 

“I remain focused on the job but you can imagine, at 18 years of age, boxing in Madison Square Garden, it’s a dream come true for me.”

“I can’t wait to get in there and box now. Some of the most famous boxers in the world have boxed there and I will be following in there footsteps. What an opportunity.”

All the focus will be on one of those legends, Cotto on Saturday and rightly so after the career he has had. However, McKenna is hopeful that, as fight fans say goodbye to one exciting fighter, they will take a shine to an emerging talent on the undercard.

“They can certainly look forward to a exciting fight. I am very determined to do the business on the night. I think people will like my attacking style,” the youngster continued. 

The case of Golden Boy starlet McKenna has been an interesting one. There was talk of him turning over at 16 with rumours he might debut in Mexico as you have to be 18 to fight in the States.

The Sheer Sports-managed fighter didn’t follow the Mexican route, but has been training like a pro for the last year and a half.

McKenna has been afforded time to adapt to a pro style Stateside and believes as a result he is a step ahead of most young debutants.

“I certainly feel well prepared having spent a lot of time in the USA learning the trade. Taking my age into consideration it was well worth it as I am better prepared than most boxers debuting.”

“I still have a lot to learn but couldn’t be in a better place to improve my boxing,” before discussing his first official pre fight camp which played out in Los Angeles under the guidance of coach Courage Tshabalala. 

“Camp went well. I have been training with Courage this past two years and have learned a lot from him, so the camp went very smoothly.”

“I also got top quality sparring with Javier Mollina throughout the camp. The final 2 weeks of camp I completed 30 rounds of sparring at the Maywood, Wildcard and Iron Boxing gyms!”



Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: