‘The Mighty Celt’ edged past the game Renald Garrido on the Ryan Burnett v Zhanat Zhakiyanov world title undercard at the SSE Odyssey Arena.
The Lenadoon light welter had been due to face former British title challenge and Sky headliner Tommy Coyle on the bill, but saw this fight shelved two weeks out with the Hull fighter pulling out due to the re-emergence of a troublesome hand injury.
In came the game Garrido, and the eccentric Frenchman certainly drew attention during fight week with Hallowe’en costumes at the weigh-in and press conference hugs.
While the the jovial ‘Lionheart’ came to the ring in full Lion attire, crawling under the bottom rope it all business once the bell rang. Garrido has claimed numerous scalps during his career and been on the end of some dubious decisions.
Southpaw McKenna began aggressively, landing with a big counter left early, but Garrido would march the home fighter down – having him in a spot of bother toward the end of the round before McKenna responded with a volley of ramrod one-twos.
An even second saw both have success, McKenna with sharp shots on the outside as well as some lovely counter hooks, but Garrido was increasingly getting into range to land clubbing blows to body and head.
McKenna played matador to the bull in the first half of the third before the stanza slipped into a close quarters battle, with ‘The Mighty Celt’ finishing strong.
Again in the fourth McKenna had periods of nice boxing mixed with Garrido getting inside – and the Frenchman would knock out McKenna’s gumshield toward the end of the round.
McKenna had an extremely good fifth, with real flashes of quality footwork and shot selection. The gumshield did come out again during the round – but the reaction of McKenna suggested it was more a fitting issue.
It was a quieter sixth, however there was worry as McKenna’s gumshield fell out once again – eliciting a warning from the referee.
The gumshield madness continues at the start of the seventh, this time Garrido’s guard innocuously falling out. The Marseille man came on strong following this and the bout momentarily seemed to be slipping away from McKenna, who was starting to swell around the eyes, but the West Belfast fighter responded with some huge bodyshots which hurt Garrido.
The fight went to the trenches in the eight, Garrido’s tanking seemingly being unlimited and McKenna doing well to hang with the pac.
Garrido’s spit bucket would topple over ahead of the ninth, leading to a delay ahead of a dramatic round. The gumshields of both fighters fell out once again but, with McKenna’s count on four, it was the home fighter docked a point. Garrido then piled on the pressure in the closing 30, cornering McKenna and landing huge shots that rocked the MTK man down to his boots.
The Garrido freight train continued into the final round, with the visitor throwing countless shots while a sapped McKenna tried to keep him off with what little energy he had left.
Going to the referee’s card following a high-octane thirty minutes of action there was no certainty over who the victor was as the score of 96-94 was called out – and it was McKenna who claimed the narrow win.
The close victory sees McKenna move 15(6)-0-1, while the immensely game Garrido drops to 19(3)-17(0)-2
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)