James Tennyson to fight for European title on huge pay-per-view card


James Tennyson [21(17)-2(2)] has secured a major title fight on one of the biggest British bills of the year.

The Belfast super featherweight will challenge for the EBU European title on the massive Tony Bellew v David Haye 2 pay-per-view undercard at the O2 Arena in London on May 5th.

‘The Assassin’ is ranked #10 with the continental organisation and will take on champion Martin J Ward [19(9)-0-2] on the Sky Box Office card, looking to add the blue belt to his pair of Irish super featherweight titles along with the BBBoC Celtic super featherweight title.

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Tennyson is also ranked #4 with the WBA after winning and defending the body’s ‘International’ belt last year and had been in line to move up the rankings, with either champion Alberto Machado or upcoming #2-ranked challenger Rafael Mensah set to drop following their fight and #1-ranked Jesus Cuellar due to be removed for inactivity.

However, the division has descended into farce recently with the revelation that a ‘Super’ belt, technically superior to the world title held by Machado, is to be arbitrarily created. Cuellar and #3-ranked Gervonta Davis will fight for the title on April 21st in Brooklyn. This move, enabled by former ‘Super’ champion Jezreel Corrales’s failure to make weight for his failed defence versus Machado, is completely at odds with the WBA’s promise to eliminate multiple champions per division.

Tennyson had been offered the chance to step in and face WBC champion Miguel Berchelt in Mexico last month, but this would be turned down by he and his team due to the low amount offered. Manager Mark Dunlop has revealed that ‘The Assassin’ will be receiving double this offer to face Ward.

Rather than a Mexican away day, Tennyson kept busy with a quick win over Arnoldo Solano in Belfast at the Europa Hotel last month, and was set to return to the venue to tick over on the undercard of Paul Hyland’s clash with Floyd Moore on April 14th, but will now be focused fully on May 5th.

The Poleglass puncher, still only 24 years of age, will be looking to join a prestigious group of recent Irish European champions that includes the likes of Carl Frampton, Bernard Dunne, Matthew Macklin, and Willie Casey.

Ward, after edging bast Belfast’s Anto Cacace in the Summer, won the European title in December with a sixth-round stoppage win over Juli Giner at the York Hall on the Katie Taylor v Jessica McCaskill undercard.

He had previously won the British title outright, stopping Andy Townend in the eighth, being dropped and squeezing past Tennyson’s stablemate Ronnie Clark, outpointing Maxi Hughes, and claiming the belt along with the Commonwealth title when he beat Cacace.

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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