Aaron McKenna battled his way into the world’s Top 20 after an all-action display in London tonight.
The Monaghan native was made to work for a career-best win over 10 grueling rounds, putting in a shift and a half to earn the WBC International title in a fight made for the famous York Hall.
The 23-year-old won the majority of the rounds and never looked in danger of suffering a first career defeat but while the 100-91, 98-92, 98-93 scorecard was fair, it didn’t tell the story of the fight.
Uisma Lima was a game opponent and made the former underage amateur standout work for every second of the 30-minute fight.
It was all go from first to last bell and McKenna had to deal with an aggressive puncher for 10 rounds.
The reception for Aaron McKenna! 🇮🇪 👏 pic.twitter.com/uNX6z1rEqa— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) June 16, 2023
The Irish fighter’s superior skill set, ring nouse, and fitness were winning him rounds and by the tail end of the fight, he did flirt with securing a statement stoppage win. However, Lima showed stubborn resistance to make the final bell, meaning McKenna moved from prospect to contender via a points victory.
There was no feeling out process as both fighters let their hands go for the first three minutes. McKenna did look to box off a long jab in the opening stages, a sensible tactic against a big punching southpaw but by the end of the stanza, they were head to head letting shots go. The shot of the round did come from the Irish fighter, a lovely short uppercut.
The Monaghan man managed to put a little distance between himself and his aggressive foe in another action-packed second stanza, peppering the Portugal-based fighter with simple and sharp one-twos. However, Lima was still there and always looking to land.
The high pace continued into the third and while McKenna finally managed to back up the Angolian, who came to the fight promising a knockout, Lima was having his own success in close quarters, landing one straight to the body that knocked McKenna off balance.
The Hennessey middleweight was back on his jab in the fourth and enjoyed real success showing his skills and picking shots from range. He walked Lima onto a number of uppercuts and straight rights, opening a cut over his opponent’s eye and winning the session with room to spare.
The fifth followed a similar pattern and at that stage, it looked like McKenna was going to go on and assert real dominance, but to his credit, Lima came out to try and find a way into contention letting his hands go from the start of the sixth.
Jesus, what a fight between Aaron McKenna and Uisma Lima.— Gavan Casey (@GavanCasey) June 16, 2023
McKenna gets the UD nod — 100-91, 98-92, and 98-93 — but Lima was close in plenty rounds.
I had it as close to a 50-50 fight on paper beforehand, tbh. Very good win for McKenna, who showed he’s conditioned for long wars pic.twitter.com/vPn8piK2HW
McKenna wasn’t going to be bullied and began to fight fire with fire, landing one massive right hand and knocking his game foe’s gumshield out.
The younger brother of Stevie McKenna really began to dent Lima in the seventh, landing regular chopping shots on a fighter who was by now struggling with the pace. The Southborough native started to execute crisp clean combinations in the eight to great effect. Indeed, so effective was his work, he flirted with the stoppage more than once. However, Lima came back from the brink on more than one occasion and somehow managed to stay standing.
The superior fitness and skillset of McKenna began to show in the ninth and once he again he flirted with the stoppage but Lima wasn’t for wilting. He shipped some massive right hands and managed to make it into the final round.
Between rounds Team McKenna called for him to reproduce his underage amateur form and box and move. Easier said than done after nine grueling rounds, in such heat especially when pitted against a brave and aggressive foe. The tenth like the nine before was high octane and intense, but dominated by the Irish fighter.
The win sees McKenna crowned WBC International Champion and his record improved to 17-0 with eight knockouts to his name while Lima now owns a 10-1 record.