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‘I want to be the top dog in Ireland’ – James Tennyson has Ireland’s biggest boxing star plans

James Tennyson [26(23)-3(3)] wants to take a sizable step to becoming not just a Belfast headline act, but Ireland’s biggest boxing star on Saturday night.

‘The Assassin’ takes on Gavin Gwynee [11(2)-1(0)] in an eagerly anticipated British lightweight title fight live on DAZN and Sky Sports and is confident victory will only help his stock rise significantly.

The 26-year-old has enjoyed success since working his way through the small hall circuit to the bright lights of Eddie Hearn’s back garden.

There have been Irish, Commonwealth and European title wins and as a super featherweight the unassuming destructive puncher challenged Tevin Farmer for the IBF world title.

However, it’s only of late the hype machine has started to kick into gear. Four impressive stoppage wins at lightweight have helped, but the big transition has been the backing of Matchroom.

A long term contract with the promotional giants has allowed long term plans to be put into place and Eddie Hearn has become a vocal advocate for the quite media shy star in the making.

The added press has generated added interest and the bigger platform could just lead to Tennyson joining the likes of Carl Frampton and Katie Taylor as stars of the island.

“That’s the plan — that’s what I want to be doing, you know?” Tennyson said earlier this week.

“Being able to top bills in the SSE Arena. And I think with the platform of Matchroom and they progress we’re making, we’re going the right way about it, too. In the next few fights, if things clear up with Covid and everything, I think it’d be possible to achieve it, yeah,” he adds before expressing awareness of the opportunity he has to win new fans on the only show in town tonight.

“With the lack of boxing and even sport generally that’s been on, there’ll be a lot of attention on Saturday — especially with it being Matchroom’s first big show back. It’s a perfect platform for me to go out and really showcase what I’ve got to a wider audience. There’s going to be a lot more people tuned in for this fight night.”

Matchroom, who have Katie Taylor on their books, haven’t been in Ireland since the worked with Ryan Burnett and promoted his unification clash with Zhanat Zhakiyanov in 2017.

Tennyson has obviously been told of plans to change that and if Eddie Hearn does return across the Irish sea he wants to the man in the spotlight.

“I want to be the top dog in Ireland, topping the big bills — especially in the SSE Arena. I’ve been there fighting on Carl Frampton’s undercard. It’d be a pleasure to be able to top my own bills there someday.”

To become top Irish dog Tennyson will first have to overcome an underdog promising to bite back.

Gwynne has held himself well in the build up and isn’t shying away from going to war with the knockout artist.

Tennyson himself wonders whether his British title rival will back up his words and go to toe to toe over 12 rounds, but isn’t expecting an easy night regardless.

“You could say so, you could say so. Gav is obviously confident in his ability but I think staying in the pocket with me would be my sort of ballgame and I don’t think it’d suit him too much,” he says when asked about his opponents predictions.

“I was listening to his previous interviews and he believes he can stop me in the later rounds, so it just goes to show how confident he is. He’s obviously had a good camp. No, like, I’m expecting a tough night from him, yeah.

“He’s just as much a threat as anyone else. It’s a must-win for me; he wants what I’ve got, more or less. He’s obviously been working hard to try and take that from me. And I’m not taking it lightly.”

Manager Mark Dunlop previously told Irish-boxing.com that he would like to see ‘Tenny’ become a two weight European champion before surveying any world options.

Matchroom do have a host of big lightweight names and they have all been dropped alongside the Belfast Kronk puncher. Tennyson isn’t adverse to fights with the likes of Luke Campbell and Devon Hanney, but is fully focused on the job at hand.

“I’m close to top 10 overall (with all of the sanctioning bodies) in the world at the minute, but I can’t overlook Gav; I’m focused fully on Gav on Saturday night and it’d be foolish of me to overlook him. Obviously, I want to get back to world level and all that but I’ve got to beat Gav before any of that comes into account.

“He’s a tall, tough guy — he’s very durable. He’s got a good engine and he gave a good account of himself when he fought [fellow Welsh star] Joe Cordina. But we’re ready.”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com