Stevie McKenna [5(5)-0] reveals his performances in the sparring ring Stateside earned him the ‘Hitman’ ring moniker.
With the Monaghan fighters long frame and exciting approach it didn’t take long for Tommy Hearn comparisons to be made.
As a result he adopted one of the Four Kings nickname – and has lived up to it so far.
‘The Hitman’ has stopped all five opponents since his pro premiere back in April 2019. Four victims folded in the first round, the other was culled for the count just 29 seconds into round two.
Speaking when asked about the ‘Hitman’ tag the new Hennessy Sports signing said: “People at the US gyms, nicknamed me ‘The Hitman’ after watching me spar. They said I was tall but exciting, just like Tommy Hearns.”
“I think it first became apparent that I was blessed with real natural power when I started fighting at Under 18 level. I started to hurt a lot of guys and administered many standing counts and stoppages.
“My height at the weight certainly helps, Like Hearns, I use my reach to keep the opposition at arm’s distance and I can keep generate serious leverage. Since relocating to the US two years ago, I feel I’m getting stronger and stronger every single camp. Years of hard work has also played its part.
“I’ve a vicious overhand right which has hurt a lot of people but I’ve plenty of selection; any wee shot I land. I punch very hard with both arms and try to take opponent’s heads off with every punch I throw.”
It’s as an aggressive approach as you can get and the McKenna’s in ring mantra is a nasty one. However, out side the ring both boxing brothers Stevie and Aaron are a good singing voice away from choir boy.
“Outside the ring, I’m very humble and respectful. Obviously, you hope both fighters get out of the ring safely but I have to confess that a brutal knockout leaves me buzzing. I’ve not left anyone badly unconscious. The one’s that have been down for minutes have usually been ‘done’ by body shots.”
It’s not always about savagery for the Freddie Roach prospect, he argues he carries the skill set to supplement his violence.
“I always fully prepare to go the distance. Fans haven’t seen this yet because my pro fights have been so short but I never tire in sparring with the likes of (WBO/WBC super-lightweight boss) Jose Ramirez and (two-time world title challenger) Jose Zapeda. Those spars are far, far tougher than being in a fight. That’s where the learning happens. So any time I can deliver a quick knockout on fight night, I’m gonna take it.
“I even sparred Vasyl Lomachenko. He needed southpaw opposition for his fight against Jose Pedraza so I pretended to be southpaw just to secure the spar! I did five rounds with ‘Loma’ – all southpaw – and it took him at least the first three to figure me out. I’m quite ambidextrous and like to switch, anyway. That was an unbelievable experience.”
‘The Hitman’ promises to re-light the touch paper when he resurfaces against Plymouth’s experienced Des Newton tonight.
“I’ve been preparing under my dad in a gym at the back of our house. It has a full size ring, a treadmill, all the equipment we require. We’ve had guys come to us for sparring and we’ve also been over to Dublin,” disclosed McKenna who is also scheduled to appear on promoter Hennessy’s Channel 5 the following week on the undercard of the British Light-Heavyweight title clash between Shakan Pitters and Craig Richards.
“Everything is spot on for another explosive performance. Fireworks, live on Five! I think UK fans will enjoy my exciting style; old school boxing where the best want to meet the best. I intend to put on a spectacular show every time.”