FIRST ROUND KO – Jovanni Straffon STUNS James Tennyson

James Tennyson has been sensationally knocked out in the first round in Manchester.

Opening the TV broadcast of the big Derek Chisora v Joseph Parker pay-per-view at the AO Arena, the Belfast lightweight was stopped in the opening stanza of his clash with dangerous Mexican Jovanni Straffon.

Against a tough southpaw, WBA #5, WBO #6, IBF #13, and WBC #17 Tennyson was looking to add another sprinkle of seasoning and continue rising through the 135lbs division but Straffon had other ideas.

A slugfest from the opening bell, it was big puncher Tennyson who was caught and put down – and subsequently out – for a shock defeat.

‘The Assassin’ came into tonight off the back of a deadly run having flattened Canadian Josh O’Reilly inside a round and worn down Welsh warriors Gavin Gwynne and Craig Evans. Initially he was due have a more notable contest with Scotch veteran Ricky Burns but this match-up with the former three-weight champ fell through and, after 14 other men apparently turned down the fight, Straffon stood up to the plate.

The vicious Veracruz lefty had been on a nine-fight win streak following a pair of away day points losses to Canadian Tony Luis and Russian Vage Sarukhanyan. With a fistful of nice wins on the dog-eat-dog Mexican scene, Straffon looked a solid foe. Indeed, backed by Miura Boxing, the same outfit behind Ray Moylette upsetter Christian Uruzquieta, he had definitely come to win.

While not many had given him a chance to do so, the 9/1 underdog was able to derail the Tennyson train in one of the upsets of the year so far.

The trading began immediately, with both landing heavy shots. Clean right hands from Tennyson hit home while Straffon’s lefts were also sneaking in. It was too furious, though, with the Ulsterman’s corner calling for him to rein it in but it was too late as a right hook, left hook combination square on the chin put Tennyson down heavily on the two-minute mark.

Struggling to get to his feet, the Belfast man just about made it at the count of nine but a barrage from Straffon as soon as the action restarted saw the bout waved off.

The stunning defeat sees Tennyson fall to 28(24)-4(4) while the life-changing win for Straffon sees him pick up the International Boxing Organisation title and improve to 24(17)-3(0)-1.

Still only 27, Tennyson will no doubt, like he has done before, rebound from the defeat, with plenty of exciting fights still available to him. That said, the defeat may act as a bump in the road en-route to any Matchroom shows back in Belfast.

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

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