WAR – James Tennyson stops Gavin Gwynne in slugfest to win British title

James Tennyson is the new British lightweight champion.

The Belfast banger stopped Welshman Gavin Gwynne inside six rounds to  leave the world title as the only belt left to add to his mantlepiece.

The Poleglass puncher was in action on the opening night of ‘Fight Camp’ at the Matchroom headquarters in Essex and emerged victorious in a thrilling firefight.

The ever-growing Tennyson had challenged for the featherweight version of the belt way back in 2016, losing to Ryan Walsh, but there was no repeat here.

A slugfest from the off, Tennyson shipped lots of leather but landed even more and eventually forced a stoppage of the valiant man from Merthyr Tydfil.

Following his IBF super featherweight world title defeat to Tevin Farmer in late 2018, Tennyson has looked healthy and destructive at 135lbs. Four knockout wins, including stoppages on Matchroom bills of Atif Shafiq and another Welshman in Craig Evans, set the 26-year-old up for tonight’s shot – which he took violently.

Shortly after Tennyson had flattened Shafiq last August, Gwynne was in the ring at the same venue fighting countryman Joe Cordina for the British belt. Olympian Cordina claimed a unanimous decision win over twelve rounds that night but certainly had it put up to him by the gutsy Gwynne.

A quiet comeback win in November saw Gwynne get back to winning ways and the underdog entered Fight Camp with plenty of confidence – and with plenty of backers from Wales.

However, it was the Kronk favourite, who is starting to receive some substantial backing from Matchroom that claimed the famous belt.

Tennyson got in close from the opening bell, forehead to forehead, and was able to sneak in repeated short right hands, reddining Gwynne’s face instantly. The Welshman grew as the round progressed, landing some smart shots but the opener was the Irishman’s.

An early uppercut from Tennyson jolted Gwynne’s head in the second but a dislodged gumshield forced a pause. From the restart, the rangy Gwynne would pepper from the outside with long straight shots. Tennyson began to rip to the body in what was a closer round as the pair traded up close.

It was fast and furious, unsustainably so, as both landed plenty. Gwynne was landing the greater number of shots in the third but the Tennyson pressure was relentless and heavy punches continued to chip through.

The pace continued in round four as Tennyson managed to back Gwynne to the ropes with increasing regularity but his game opponent wast still able to land plenty in return.

Tennyson’s infamous uppercuts came more into play in the fifth but Gwynne was able to respond with some clean uppers of his own. As the fifth progressed, it became a pitched battle of bodyshots and Gwynne managed to back ‘The Assassin’ up for the first time.

It was a gruelling affair as we approached halfway as both took turns to land volleys of shots and Tennyson eventually made his breakthrough with an enormous right hand that forced Gwynne to take a knee.

Surviving the count, Gwynne was then faced with a barrage of uppercuts and hooks as Tennyson tossed his opponent around the ring before referee Phil Edwards eventually intervened to crown the new British champion.

The explosive win sees Tennyson improve his record to 27(23)-3(3) while the brave Gwynne drops to 12(2)-2(1).

The knockout title triumph completes Tennyson’s collection of belts below world level, with Lord Lonsdale joining the Irish (twice), Celtic, Commonwealth, and European straps.

The winner of next week’s European title fight in Finland between veteran hometown favourite Edis Tatli and Gianluca Ceglia would appear to be the next logical step for Tennyson who has world title aspirations – and world title power.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie