Anto Upton eyeing up Belfast rival following statement stoppage win


Anto Upton [15(6)-1(0)] went where few others have gone on Saturday night.

The Belfast light welterweight stopped tough Nigerian Innocent Anyanwu in the sixth and final round of their fight on the Ginley Promotions card at the Devenish Complex.

Previously Anyanwu had only ever been stopped by European champion Edis Tatli, European title challengers Ruddy Encarnacion and Antonio Bento, and elite Ukrainian prospect Denys Berinchyk – while he had gone the distance with Mayo’s Ray Moylette and Dubliner Jake Hanney.

It was definitely a statement from Upton. who told Irish-Boxing.com aftrwards that “I know he has fought a lot of good fighters and gone the distance, but it is what it is. I took my time and the knockout came.”

“I wish I could have finished him off and put him out clean, but the referee stepped in and did his job.”

“I said last week that I would love to get a stoppage. I haven’t had one since the English title fight [v Luke Paddock] so I was happy.”

“I was buzzing honestly. It was my first fight back with my new trainers and living back home. I am just over the moon right now.”

Since his win over Paddock, Upton has changed trainers twice, initially leaving Ricky Hatton in Manchester to move under Barry Smith and Harry Andrews in London, before relocating back home to Belfast and Ray Ginley at the Immanuel Boxing Academy.

The 25 year old is enjoying his new set-up, and described how “Ray is getting me working more. Sometimes I get in this comfort zone and I just relax. He is making me work more telling me I am sharp and fit so work.”

“The plan was to feel him [Anyanwu] out in the first round, don’t let him know the power is there too early, because I can hit. So we touched about, let him get in range and then up the pace every round. Then I heard Ray say there is a minute and a half left so let your hands go and bang I landed that shot.”

With the win in the bag, Upton now wants to move back up in level and has his eye on a Belfast rival.

Lenadoon’s Tyrone McKenna fights on the big Sky Sports show at the SSE Odyssey Arena next month, and Upton would like a fight with the rangey southpaw afterwards.

He noted that “I don’t call out anyone, but a closed mouth doesn’t get fed and I am good enough to be mixing it with these guys.”

“Myself and Tyrone are friends, he is fighting Tommy Coyle, we fought before in the amateurs [a 3-2 win for Upton under the old scoring system in the 2011 Irish Elite Senior quarter finals].”

“If he comes through that fight, which I am sure he will then lets get it on.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie