Tyrone McKenna wants immediate Lewis Ritson clash to ease Dubai pain

Tyrone McKenna [21(6)-2(0)-1] suggests defeat in Dubai may have been easier to take than a late cancellation – and when he speaks on the matter it’s easy to see why.

The Mighty Celt was set to challenge Zhankosh Turarov for the WBO intercontinental light-welterweight ranking title on April 4. The clash was to play chief support to Carl Frampton and Jamel Herring’s WBO super featherweight world title and was a fight the Belfast southpaw felt could prove a massive stepping stone toward a world title shot.

However, on the morning of the clash was set to take place, McKenna was told it was off. The undefeated Kazch tested positive for COVID and couldn’t compete.

It was a massive blow for the Pete Taylor trained 140lbs boxer for reasons beyond just being denied the chance to register a high profile win on a card with world interest.

Indeed, McKenna claims he’d nearly have prefered to have fought and lost than not to have fought at all.

“It’s massively deflating,” McKenna told Irish-boxing.com.

“It’s hard to take, 11 weeks away from the kids, 11 weeks away from everyone, dieting, spending a fortune in camp to prepare right not even to have a fight.

“In some ways I’d rather get beat than have a fight called off because at least you had an opportunity to prove yourself,” he adds before explaining he was only hit with the disapointment the morning of the fight.

“I heard literally the morning of the fight. Pete [Taylor] knew a few days prior, that he had an inconclusive test, but didn’t want me to panic and lose focus, so didn’t tell me.”

The disappointment, for now, has roots in the short term. McKenna forked out thousands for a training camp in Dublin with eventually getting pay and feels like the time spent away from his young family was wasted. Whether or not it becomes a long-term negative remains to be seen.

‘The Mighty Celt’ says if a big fight with the likes of Lewis Ritson was made in the near future the pain of Dubai would be eased.

“I’ll have to see this week how much of a set back it is,” he continues. “It’s down to whether Jamie [Conlan] can get me back out in four to six weeks for this title against someone else like Ritson or another big enough name. Then I’ll gladly defend it again Turarov when he’s manned up and is ready. But if I’ve to wait on Turarov for another 10 to 12 weeks then that’s a sickner because that’s a full camp again, which means spending a fortune again and hoping he’ll actually fight this time. If he doesn’t I’m down thousands again and left not knowing what to do next.”

McKenna was as high as a 4/1 underdog going at stages during fight week, a price a host in the know in Ireland argued was sensationally attractive and a price he feels was more than generous.

The tall for the weight war-loving southpaw was confident before traveling to Dubai but when seeing the Kazch struggle on the scales he felt an early point stoppage was on the cards.

“I was insanely confident going into the fight. I was confident before I saw how much he struggled to weigh in but that just added to it. I honestly think I’d of had him out of there the first half of the fight.”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com