2016 has been an important year for young Stevie McKenna.
The Monaghan boxer won the Irish Elite light flyweight title, in what was his senior debut, last December and since then has transformed himself into a fully-fledged senior boxer.
The Old School BC fighter has spurted his way up to bantamweight and, while there have been no major tournaments this year, he has gained some invaluable experience ahead of a big 2017.
McKenna spoke to Irish-Boxing.com and described how “2016 was a good year for me, moving to the Youth ranks to the Senior. I’ve been training up in Dublin all year with the senior team in different training camps.”
“I got a bronze medal in my first International Senior Tournement [Gee Bee Multi-Nations, Helsinki] where I lost to European Games champion Bator Sagluev from Russia. It could have went either way and it showed me what level I was at it.”
Gee Bees aside, it has been relatively quiet competitions-wise for McKenna, who last year won Commonwealth Youth gold and European Youth silver. The Ulster man was not complaining however, and explained how “the time suited me to fully grow into a 56kg fighter. There hasn’t been as many tournaments this year for me, but I have been on a lot of exciting training camps in Russia and training camps in Dublin with the likes of GB, India, and Kazakhstan just before the Olympics. I was getting top class sparring with all top class countries.”
The weight jump is a big one, but McKenna tells how it was a necessary one. He noted how “I was getting far too big and tall to hold 49 or 52, so I decided to move up to 56kg. I feel very strong at the weight now and feel a lot more comfortable.”
Now beginning to settle at the weight, there are a busy few weeks ahead. The 19 year old has been signed by BSK Hannover Seelze for the Bundesliga tournament, and will make his debut against BC Chemnitz 94 in the opening fixture this weekend. Then there is an international contest with England’s Louie Lynn and a potential for more Bundesliga bouts.
He outlined how “I will have a lot of action coming up, now in Germany, and a fight against England next week. It is all great prepartion for the Irish Seniors in Febuary.”
On his fight this weekend, McKenna noted how “it is similar to the WSB fighting. You weigh-in just two hours before your fight, but it suits me as I’m moving up. I’m looking foward to it and getting plenty of fights is great.”
It’s a hectic period for the teenager, who also fought in Spain last month, and it all leads into the National Elite Senior Championships in February, where McKenna plans to come out on top. A high-quality division, reigning champion Kurt Walker is confident of defending his crown, while there is further competition from last year’s other finalist Myles Casey, and young guns Terry McEntee and James McGivern. This is not a problem for McKenna who states that “I am very confident as I am very strong at the weight with no issues.”
“Of course the competition is very competitive at this weight, but I feel more than capable of coming out on top at number one. I don’t really worry about competitors, I leave them to worry about me!”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)