James Tennyson is the NEW European and Commonwealth super featherweight champion following a sensational win this evening in London.
The Belfast big hitter knocked out the silkily skilled champion Martin J Ward in the fifth round at the O2 Arena on the undercard of the Tony Bellew v David Haye heavyweight rematch.
Dropped early, ‘The Assassin’ rose and rode the storm before hurting and finishing Ward in a hugely entertaining fire-fight.
Tennyson, the reigning WBA Internationa titlist, had been bumped up to #2 in the rankings but, coming in to face Matchroom’s Ward, there was no doubt that Eddie Hearn was looking to take this from him.
The 24-year-old Irishman had his own plans though and pulled off a minor upset with fantastic display of grit and killer instinct.
Ward began sharply, throwing and landing neat combinations while Tennyson had sporadic success with thudding shots.
Tennyson began to walk through Ward’s punches in the second, unloading his signature uppercuts before a shot downstairs – ruled low – stopped him in his tracks. Ward began to fire in bodyshot after bodyshot after this, visibly hurting Tennyson before finally dropping him in the closing seconds with a pair of left hooks.
The Poleglass puncher rose and made it to the third where he came out firing. Ward weathered the storm and resumed his body assault, sinking shots into the midrift of Tennyson who, showing tremendous grit, stayed up and even landed a few jarring uppercuts of his own.
The fight swung in the fifth, with Tennyson hurting Ward with clubbing shots early on. The Irishman piled on the pressure for the entirety of the stanza, with a big left hook at the close.
Ward seemed to have found his feet at the start of the fifth but was shook once again from a succession of straight shots upstairs. Following a barrage, the European champion finally went down. Rising unsteadily, he was afforded a few extra seconds as Tennyson’s mouthpiece dropped out but it was not enough as ‘The Assassin’ finished the job, his uppercut inside, fittingly, being the final blow as Ward fell limp into the arms of referee Victor Loughlin.
The amazing win sees Tennyson improve his record to 22(18)-2(2) while Ward falls to 19(9)-1(1)-2.
The result sees Tennyson move ever closer to a world title shot with the WBA but the state of the division, however, is up in the air. Puerto Rican Alberto Machado was seen previously as the WBA champion having defeated former holder Jezreel Corrales last October. However, as Corrales had missed weight, the belt became vacant and the fight was not for the so-called ‘super’ title which had been held by the Panamanian. Regardless, Machado became the sole WBA beltholder after stopping the overweight Corrales in the eighth round and was viewed as the champion until, maddeningly, a new super championship was created and won by Mayweather protégé Gervonta Davis versus Jesus Cuellar last month.
The other Irish boxer in action on the bill – Tallaght super bantam Carl McDonald – put in a gallant performance after taking a fight with featherweight hotshot Jordan Gill at two days notice. McDonald, who is preparing for a BUI Celtic title fight on June 16th, brought the in-form Englishman the full six rounds and giving a good account of himself.