Anto Upton sick that he couldn’t take Tyrone McKenna fight on Burnett-Zhakiyanov undercard

A bout of flu is the only thing that kept Anto Upton from chasing a bout with Tyrone McKenna.

Following Upton’s win over Innocent Anyanwu last month, the Belfast light welter had called for a fight with the winner of this weekend’s proposed bout between McKenna and Hull’s Tommy Coyle.

With just two weeks until fight night, Coyle was forced out with a recurring hand injury.

The stage seemed set for Upton to come in and face McKenna on the Ryan Burnett v Zhanat Zhakiyanov undercard at the SSE Odyssey Arena, but it just wasn’t to be this time round and ‘The Mighty Celt’ will now take on Frenchman Renald Garrido.

Upton explained to that “after my last fight, I was back in the gym on the Tuesday and I ended up with the flu and a chest infection. I’m just getting back into the swing of things now.”

“I’ve been saying I’d like to fight Tyrone McKenna.”

“The opportunity came up to fight him on this card but I didn’t get asked, which was the right thing from my managers because they didn’t want to offer one of their fighters to fight another of their fighters on such short notice”

“If I hadn’t have got that illness I would have jumped at that fight with Tyrone McKenna, one hundred percent.”

“But I’ve done that before, where I’ve took a fight on short notice and I came up short. I learnt a lot of things from doing that. I’m taking my time now, still learning every day with my coaches.”

While he won’t be fighting on the card, Upton [15(6)-1(0)] will still be there cheering on one of his lifelong friends.

The former English champion explained how “me and Ryan grew up together on the Irish team. Not only that, I used to stay around his house nearly every weekend, he used to stay round mine.”

It wasn’t just in the amateurs either where the 25 year olds were in close contact. The pair, alongside Zhakiyanov, were all at one stage trained together by Ricky Hatton in Manchester.

A man with an insider view, Upton believes that we are in store for a big win from Burnett.

Recalling their days in camp together, Upton noted how “what happened with them in sparring and stuff like that, it doesn’t matter. All that maters is who performs on the night, and Ryan Burnett will look a million dollars on Saturday night.”

“I’m not looking past Zhanat Zhakiyanov, he’s a great fighter, but this fight is going to make Ryan shine. His style, look how good he was against Haskins, this guy is only going to be coming forward – I’m predicting a knockout on Ryan Burnett’s behalf.”

In terms of his own career, Upton is hoping to rid on the wave of the Belfast boxing resurgence.

He outlined that “I’m just waiting on a date. I think I’ll end up fighting on another Ginley Promotions card, just to get another fight in before the year is out, and then the start of next year I’m sure there’ll be a few big bills over here.”

“I’m hoping Ryan gets through with a win then he’ll be back here next year as well, It’d be a big thing to be on one of his undercards.”

“Then Frampton, Conlan, all these cards so I’m hoping to get out on one of them in a big fight.”


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: