James Tennyson violently moved one step closer to a second world title shot tonight with a first-round knockout in London.
The Belfast lightweight destroyed Josh O’Reilly in a WBA eliminator at the Wembley Arena, stopping the Canadian in just over two minutes on the Matchroom Residency card.
The one-round fight, which played out as chief support to Billy Joe Saunders v Martin Murray live on Sky Sports, was the perfect platform for Tennyson and O’Reilly was the perfect opponent – offering both a ranking and little opposition.
Having defeated Gavin Gwynne to win the British title back in August, Tennyson has seen his reputation continue to rise, with plenty of plaudits coming in from promoter Eddie Hearn. The explosive win tonight will only see this talk increase as the Poleglass puncher hunts bigger scalps in 2021.
Irish-Canadian O’Reilly, who formerly spent time training in Cavan, had worked his way to the top of the Canadian scene over the past few years, picking up a NABA rankings belt in the process. ‘Dubsy’ had spent the pandemic period petitioning for fights, eventually securing an eliminator with Tennyson but was way out of his depth in what was his first overseas contest.
Tennyson began patiently, stalking O’Reilly, and had the Canadian down as soon as he started landing shots of significance.
O’Reilly rose unsteadily and looked to cling on but a left hook sent him down again heavily.
Rising one more time, the bout was called by referee Marcus McDonnell as soon as Tennyson poured in again.
The Assassin strikes again! 💥 @JamesT931 hands O’Reilly his first defeat as a professional, with a stunning first round display 🔥
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) December 4, 2020
The quickfire win sees ‘The Assassin’ improve his record to 28(24)-3(3), while the shell-shocked O’Reilly falls to 16(6)-1(0) following his maiden defeat.
Prior to the fight, Tennyson had been ranked #10 with the WBA (and #7 with the WBO and #13 with the IBF) while O’Reilly was #8. While the fight was not a ‘final’ eliminator, his positions will doubtlessly be boosted in the aftermath of a stoppage win.
World title shots, perhaps too early at this point, are being talked about, while a homecoming to Belfast has been suggested. Whatever happens, it’s going to be fun.