There was disappointment last week when it emerged that Hull’s Tommy Coyle had been forced out of his bout with the Lenadoon light welter – but McKenna [14(6)-0-1] still faces the toughest test of his career on Saturday night in Belfast.
Frenchman Renald Garrido [19(3)-16(0)-2] has been drafted in to fight McKenna and, while his record may not be appealing, ‘Lionheart’ is an extremely dangerous foe.
In many ways facing a nightmare opponent – fit, strong, game, and with little ‘name’ value – McKenna acknowledges that he’s in a tough spot on the Ryan Burnett v Zhanat Zhakiyanov undercard.
“It’s a big risk for no reward, really,” admitted ‘The Mighty Celt’ to Irish-Boxing.com.
“Tommy Coyle was a risk, but it was a high, high reward – that’s why I took it, I was happy with it.”
“This fight’s still on that level [of Tommy Coyle]. This guy’s tough, most of his defeats have been robberies from being the away fighter.”
McKenna is not underestimating the challenge posed by Garrido – and when asked whether it was the toughest fight of his career, replied “easily.”
“Obviously his record doesn’t suggest that, but if you take a look at him, the people he’s beat, an Olympic silver medalist, stopped Bradley Saunders, drew with a very highly-rated Turk.”
“He’s a very, very dangerous fighter, high pressure and, if you’re not sharp on the night, he’ll cause you serious problems. I’ll have to be switched on from the start.”
The long southpaw has done his homework on Garrido, and is happy with what he’s seen.
“It’s all the same,” mused McKenna. “He’s not really much different to Tommy Coyle: he comes forward, he throws lots of punches, and never takes a backwards step. I’ve been training for this kind of fight anyway so I’m ready.
“I’ve watched him and he blows hot and cold, sometime’s you’d see him and you think ‘please can I fight this guy.’ I see weaknesses in him, I see flaws, and I’ll exploit them on the night.”
“I’m still happy it’s going to be a good night for the boxing fans, it’s going to be exciting, and it’s a big step up for me.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)