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Just how good is Belfast’s James Tennyson?

James Tennyson barely got out of first gear on Saturday night in Belfast, dispatching poor Antonio Horvatic in the opening round of his British title warm-up.

The Assassin had been pencilled in to headline the show at the Europa Hotel in a British featherweight title final eliminator against Darren Traynor, but some promotional wrangling from Mark Dunlop ensured Tennyson a guaranteed shot at the belt in April.

Therefore the 22 year old stood back and instead became chief support on the dinner show headlined by the British super featherweight title eliminator between stablemate James Fryers and England’s Maxi Hughes.

Horvatic was drafted in as a replacement opponent for the Kronk fighter and the tough Croatian was viewed as a durable test for Tennyson. However, one broken nose, 127 seconds, and countless uppercuts later, the bout was waved off with the Balkan boxer unable to continue.

Admittedly Horvatic is not a World beater, but he would be considered a solid European journeyman and a more-than-acceptable fight ahead of a big title showdown.

Before Saturday’s fight, the 29 year old had only been stopped four times – and Tennyson’s performance certainly compares favourably.

– Last August it took Lewis Pettitt seven rounds to stop the Croat in their WBO European super bantamweight title fight.
– Last March Frank Warren golden-boy Michell Smith (a super featherweight) knocked out Horvatic in the third round.
– In 2014 Romeo Romaeo (back then a super featherweight) finished his bout with the Adriatic fighter in the sixth and final round due to cuts.
– Indeed the only fighter to demolish Horvatic in a similar fashion to Tennyson is World class lightweight Dejan Zlaticanin, who also had a first round victory over the Croatian in 2009 in what was Horvatic’s debut.

After the bout at the weekend, the battered and bloodied Horvatic sportingly entered Tennyson’s dressing room post-fight to offer his congratulations, and he boldly predicted that the Belfast youngster will someday become a World champion.

The next step on this ladder is Ryan Walsh and the British title in April.

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