Ireland won’t be entirely united in it’s support for the unassuming but ever entertaining James Tennyson [27(23)-3(3)] when he enters the ring on Friday night, predicts Josh O’Reilly [16(6)-0].
The world ranked Canadian and Tennyson compete in a world title eliminator on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders and Martin Murray’s world title fight.
Irish fight fans will be urging the Belfast fighter to continue his lightweight knockout streak, take a big step toward a second world title shot and cement his status as the fighter who can bring Sky Sports back to Belfast.
However, the Irish fighter won’t have exclusivity in terms of Irish support warns WBA top 10 fighter O’Reilly.
The 29-year-old is confident there will be a pocket of Cavan cheering him on come fight night.
Intensely proud of his Irish roots, O’Reilly is a regular visitor to the land of his ancestors, and was based here for a few months during his late teens.
During those trips he won some fans and even shared the ring with one of Ireland’s greatest amateurs, John Joe Nevin, on a club show.
Recalling the fight, O’Reilly laughingly admits that “I got whooped!”
“I fought John Joe at 17 or 18 years old I believe, I only had about 20 amateur fights. It was a great experience. I met some great people and eventually wound up training down at Cavan BC for a few months.”
Speaking to Irish-boxing.com with regard to support at the weekend, he adds: “I’ve been back and forth over the years. I have a few friends over in Cavan so I’d imagine there will be a few people cheering me on in Ireland.”
Rumour was rife this week that due to his Irish connections O’Reilly was ‘Tenny’ aware and fancied his chances in the fight. There were suggestions he was that confident he badgered Mark Dunlop and Eddie Hearn into making the fight.
When asked about the aforementioned rumour, O’Reilly revealed he had all but messaged the world and it’s mother in search of a fight outside of Canada.
“I’d messaged loads of people looking to get fights. I was looking to fight anywhere.
“I knew I had something to offer as I was ranked in WBA. So for me it was just an opportunity to fight somewhere, there’s no shows going on in Canada really.”
The Ontario native has amassed an impressive record and is the proud owner of a polished skill set.
However, he has yet to face anyone with the kind of destructive CV boasted by Tennyson.
What is fast becoming renowned power doesn’t faze the NABA title winner.
O’Reilly is expecting the Belfast fighter to bang, but in the build up has said he is confident he can outbox the Matchroom lightweight.
Speaking on Tennyson’s qualities O’Reilly admitted: “Hes a very good fighter. I enjoy watching him he’s always in fantastic fights. He’s a very good puncher and puts on good pressure .Hes looks like a very powerful puncher and I’m expecting he is,” he adds before suggesting he feels somewhat over looked.
“I don’t doubt hes trained very hard. Its a huge opportunity for him just as it is for me, but its hard to imagine he isn’t looking over me.”