War Tyrone McKenna stopped on cuts by classy Regis Prograis

Tyrone McKenna has been defeated in Dubai by former world champ Regis Prograis.

It looked to be a case of down but not out for the Belfast light welter who was dropped in the second round and shipped a lot of punishment before the bout was called in the sixth due to a cut.

McKenna had started to have some success in the fifth but the gash above his eye opened up badly the following round forcing an end to the contest at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Prograis came to international prominence in the World Boxing Super Series, dominating Terry Flanagan and Kiryl Relikh en-route to the final where he was edged in a unification by current undisputed champ Josh Taylor. Since then, his career has been somewhat quite, with stoppages over Juan Heraldez and Ivan Redkach his only wins in the past two-and-a-half years.

That said, he was still a heavy, heavy favourite against McKenna who was jumping up in levels.

The Lenadoon character was agonisingly close to winning the Golden Contract only to be edged on the cards in a tactical encounter with Ohara Davies in September 2020. Following this, there was a Féile war with Jose Felix last year and ‘The Mighty Celt’ then had a potential fight with Sam Maxwell on the table only to choose against this to chase a high-profile scrap with Prograis.

Getting his wish, and promising to go to war with his esteemed opponent, McKenna came through a very tough start and had a few pockets of success but was largely outgunned and outclassed.

McKenna began, firing out straight shots on a relaxed-looking Prograis. The Louisiana fighter was loose and soon started to lash in shots with a lot of velocity, the left hand catching McKenna a number of times.

Seconds into the second McKenna was put down hard by a chopping left hand. Attempting to grin through the fire, McKenna looked to trade as Prograis switched downstairs, hurting the Belfast southpaw again.

Puffy-eyed, McKenna made it to the third round but was being stalked by Prograis and was staggered again by another wide left hook.

The doctor came in for an examination before the start of the fourth, much to the chagrin of coach Pete Taylor, and the round started with classic McKenna – beating his chest and looking to trade with the fast-handed Prograis. The Deep South sharp-shooter had his gloves down contemptuously and was unloading on McKenna but the Ulster maniac was not yet budging.

Encouraged, McKenna landed his most solid shots in the fifth, and most shots full stop, but the classy Prograis was still hitting home with plenty of his own.

McKenna couldn’t build on this momentum, however, as a cut above McKenna’s right eye worsened in the sixth and was deemed by the ringside doctor to be too much and the bout was waved off. The cut, initially opened by a punch, was worsened by an accidental clash of heads, and a TKO was ruled.

The defeat sees McKenna slip to 22(6)-3(1)-1 while Prograis moves on to 27(23)-1(0).

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