BROOK CLASHES WITH ZERAFA


‘Special One’ returns to Sheffield Arena on December 8
Kell Brook returns to the ring in front of his hometown fans at Sheffield Arena on December 8 when he takes on Michael Zerafa, live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US.

‘The Special One’ was last in action in March when he swept away Sergey Rabchenko inside two rounds at Sheffield Arena to claim the WBC Silver Super-Welterweight title.

Former Welterweight Champion Brook is preparing to bring his weight down to 147lbs and must get past Australia’s Zefara in style if he is to secure a long-awaited British battle with former two-weight World Champion Amir Khan in 2019.

With Dominic Ingle unable to be in his corner for this fight due to other commitments, Brook is currently training in Fuerteventura with ex-boxer and friend John Fewkes ahead of his big return.

Zerafa, 26, is a former Commonwealth Super-Welterweight Champion and has secured 14 of his 25 wins via knockout. He has lost just two of his 27 professional fights and insists he will thrive off the underdog status on December 8.

“I’m delighted to be back at Sheffield Arena in front of my people,” said Brook. ”The Special One is back and all of my focus and attention is on getting myself ready to put on a spectacular performance for my loyal fans.

“I want to close the year in special fashion and set up some blockbuster fights in 2019 – I was ringside for Amir Khan’s last fight, so let’s see if he’ll be there on December 8, or will he be too shook for Brook?

“This is the biggest opportunity of Zerafa’s career and he will be coming over here to take my scalp but there’s levels in this game and I need to put him away to get the big fights that I desire.

“Meticulous work, dedication, preparation and focus has gone into this camp and I will continue to grin until fight week. I can’t wait to see you all at Sheffield Arena on December 8 where I will shine bright under all of the lights!”

“I thrive from being the underdog and I believe that Kell Brook’s team have made the mistake of overlooking me” said Zerafa. “I’m a completely different fighter to the man that lost to Peter Quillin and on December 8 I will prove that.

“I’ve already dreamt of beating Kell and replayed the fight over and over in my head. I was born for greatness and December 8 is the beginning of my rise to the top of the sport.

“Kell is a true warrior and a great Champion but he’s been in some tough fights and put a lot of miles on the clock. I see a ship with a lot of holes and too many holes leads to a sunken ship.

“He’s been in there with the best, but I believe I belong in the same ring as those fighters. On December 8 there will be a huge upset and I will make a lot of people eat their words.”

Unbeaten Irish star Jono Carroll faces French former European Champion Guillaume Frenois in a final eliminator to become mandatory challenger to IBF Super-Featherweight Champion Tevin Farmer. 

Sunderland Welterweight talent Josh ‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly, hugely popular YorkshireHeavyweight Dave ‘White Rhino’ Allen andCork Middleweight Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan all feature on a huge card.

“I’m delighted to see Kell back in the ring and I expect Zerafa to give it everything on December 8,” said Eddie Hearn. “We know that the Khan fight is on the horizon but this is all part of Kell’s preparation for being razor sharp and bringing his weight down to 147lbs – Zerafa aims to spoil the party.

“It’s a huge card with a brilliant final eliminator between Jono Carroll and Guillaume Frenois to become mandatory to the in form Tevin Farmer with Josh Kelly, Dave Allen and Spike O’Sullivan also in action. Kell is looking sensational in camp in Fuertaventura and I expect an electric performance in his home town on December 8.”

Tickets for Brook vs. Zerafa priced at £40, £60, £100 and £200 (Inner Ring VIP) are available to purchase now for Fight Pass members via StubHub (www.stubhub.co.uk

General Sale begins on November 6 at midday with tickets available to purchase from StubHub, Sheffield Arena (www.flydsaarena.co.uk) and Matchroom Boxing (www.matchroomboxing.com)

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IRISH STAR JONO CARROLL SIGNS WITH MATCHROOM BOXING


 
Unbeaten Super-Featherweight targets winner of Farmer vs. Tennyson
 
Irish star Jono Carroll has signed a promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing.
 
The unbeaten Super-Featherweight talent turned in arguably the performance of his career in June when he halted Declan Geraghty over nine brutal rounds in Belfast to retain his IBF Intercontinental title.
 
With IBF World Champion Tevin Farmer making the first defence of his title against Belfast’s James Tennyson on Matchroom Boxing USA’s October 20 Boston card, Carroll now appears to be a step closer to his World title dream.
 
“I feel the World title shot has been coming a long time,” said Carroll. “In my head, Tevin Farmer and James Tennyson are just fighting for my belt anyway. It’s already mine.
 
“If I fought Tennyson, I’d play with him. The same goes for Farmer, who’d get stopped as well. They’re both chinny and like I said, in my mind that belt they’re fighting for already belongs to me.
 
“I’m very happy to sign with Matchroom. This couldn’t come at a better time. Anyone who watched the Declan Geraghty fight and heard all the hype about it says I made that night.
 
“That was a high-profile fight. Deco is a very good fighter but I still put him away in good style. That performance definitely helped but this sort of move has been coming for a long time before that.
 
“I need more big fights and they’ve been coming ever since I’ve been with MTK Global. Now I’m with Matchroom, there’ll be more and more.”
 
“I’m delighted to welcome Jono to the team, it’s going be a lot of fun,” said Eddie Hearn. “I watched Jono win Prizefighter and I’ve been very impressed with his recent rise and he is now on the verge of challenging for a World title.
 
“Next up will be a final eliminator for the winner of Farmer vs. Tennyson and I believe UK fans on Sky and US fans on DAZN are going to love getting to know Jono Carroll.”

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TYSON TO UNLEASH FURY ON TWO-TIME WORLD TITLE CHALLENGER PIANETA


 
TYSON FURY will face two-time world heavyweight title challenger Francesco Pianeta in his second comeback fight next month.
 
The lineal heavyweight champion will face the 6ft 5in Italian on Frank Warren’s blockbuster open air show at Belfast’s Windsor Park on Saturday August 18, which is live on BT Sport.
 
Fury, 29, ended a lay off of more than two and half years last month when Sefer Seferi retired on his stool after four rounds and southpaw Pianeta is a step up in class for the Manchester man.
 
German based Pianeta (35-4-1) has 21 knockout wins on his record, but fell short in world championship challenges against Wladimir Klitschko and Ruslan Chagaev.
 
Warren said: “The Seferi fight is history and Pianeta is a far better operator than him. His level of opposition tells you that.
 
“Tyson had been out of boxing for a long time and Pianeta is a good opponent for what is Tyson’s second fight back after his break.
 
“Tyson had a short rest after Seferi, but is back in full time camp ready for this challenge in Belfast.
 
“He needs rounds under his belt before moving on to the next level and this fight will do that and make him work for his win.”
 
Pianeta, 33, is a former WBO European and EBU EU champion and knows beating Fury will put him in line for another world title fight.
 
Hall of Fame promoter Warren added: “I am sure Pianeta will get into the Belfast ring desperate to upset Tyson.”
 
Fury (26-0) became the world’s premier heavyweight and Ring Magazine champion when he took the IBF, WBA and WBO belts from Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 – becoming the first man to defeat the Ukrainian great in more than 11 years.
 
The Belfast bill is topped by local superstar, WBO ‘interim’ featherweight champion Carl Frampton who faces Australian challenger Luke Jackson.
 
Another Irish star Paddy Barnes is in world title action when he challenges Nicaragua’s feared WBC champion Cristofer Rosales.
 
Among the undercard action is a cracking Belfast v Dublin clash between Steven Ward and Steve Collins Jr. Lewis Crocker, WBO European middleweight champion Luke Keeler and Marco McCullough are also in action.
 
Limited remaining tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.ie. priced at £80, £100, £120, £150, £250, £400 (includes hospitality). Buying tickets over the phone – 0844 847 2455. To purchase Accessible Seating – 0333 321 9996

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IRISH STARS TO JOIN FRAMPTON, FURY & BARNES ON WINDSOR PARK BILL


 
Hall of Fame Promoter Frank Warren has today confirmed further undercard details for the Windsor Park event on Saturday 18th August, headlined by Belfast Hero Carl Frampton’s defense of his Interim WBO World Featherweight Title against Australian Luke Jackson. Frampton v Jackson will be broadcast live and exclusive in the UK on BT Sport.
 
An already mouthwatering undercard has been further strengthened with the addition of a Cruiserweight showdown between Steve Collins Jr and Steven Ward and slots for Irish stars Luke Keeler, Lewis Crocker and Marco McCullough.
 
The bill also features The Lineal World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury, who continues his journey towards reclaiming the World Title belts that he never lost in the ring and Double Olympic Medalist Paddy Barnes’ challenge for the WBC World Flyweight Title against Chrisofer Rosales.
 
In a surefire barnstormer, MTK Global Cruiserweights Collins Jr (12-1-1-KO4) and Ward (7-0-KO3) will clash with ‘Quiet Man’ Ward enjoying home advantage and looking to preserve his unbeaten professional record.
 
Collins Jr – son of two-weight world champion and Irish Boxing Legend Steve Collins – will be looking to make his mark in his first fight of 2018 having been narrowly denied the Irish title by a points defeat to Paddy McDonagh last year.
 
Dublin’s WBO European middleweight champion Luke Keeler (14-2-1-KO5), was highly impressive in securing the vacant belt with a points victory over Conrad Cummings at Belfast’s SSE Arena in April will make the first defence of his crown against a top rated opponent.
 
Further down the card, welterweight KO king Crocker (6-0-KO6) is looking to continue his astonishing start to life as a professional.
The Belfast boy has halted all six of his opponents to date inside three rounds – the latest feat a savage first-round stoppage of Adam Grabiec on the undercard of Michael Conlan’s homecoming.
 
Another local star added to the action is super-featherweight Marco McCullough (19-4-KO11), who is out for the second time this year after outclassing Arnoldo Solano on the undercard of Carl Frampton v Nonito Donaire in April.
 
McCullough has previously challenged for Irish, British, European and Commonwealth belts and is looking to continue his journey back into title reckoning.
 
Promoter Frank Warren said: ‘I’m delighted that further Irish talent has been added to this already bumper card. The Ward v Collins Jr showdown is set to be a great fight for the fans on a card that already boasts Frampton v Jackson, The Lineal World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury and Paddy Barnes’ World Title challenge against Cristofer Rosales.
 
I’ve been very impressed so far with Lewis Crocker who looks to have a great future and in my experience of promoting cards where Marco McCullough and Luke Keeler have featured, they are always in entertaining fights.
 
This is set to be the biggest night of boxing to ever take place in Belfast and we can’t wait to watch it all unfold amongst what I’m sure will be a fantastic atmosphere and a full house at Windsor Park.’
 
Limited remaining tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.ie. priced at £80, £100, £120, £150, £250, £400 (includes hospitality).
 
Buying tickets over the phone – 0844 847 2455
To purchase Accessible Seating – 0333 321 9996

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THE HOMECOMING – FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES


 
The final press conference for Featherweight Michael Conlan’s homecoming bout against Brazilian Adeilson Dos Santos ahead of Saturday’s fight at Belfast’s SSE Arena was held today.
 
The fight which is televised live on BT Sport, BoxNation and the ESPN+ in the USA is Conlan’s first fight in his home city since he competed in the Ulster amateur championships in February 2011.
 
There are three title contests on the card. Jack Catterall’s WBO Intercontinental Super-Lightweight title defence against Tyrone McKenna, Jono Carroll risks his IBF Super-Featherweight belt against fellow Dubliner Declan Geraghty in a rematch and the vacant Celtic Super-Bantamweight championship is on the line when unbeaten pair Tyrone McCullagh and Joe Ham meet.
 
Former world welterweight title challenger Gary Corcoran returns against Victor Ray Ankrah, Johnny Coyle meets Lewis Benson.
 
Also in action are Lewis Crocker, Gary Cully, Sunny Edwards, Padraig McCrory, Taylor McGoldrick and Neslan Machado.
 
MICHAEL CONLAN
 
“I’m delighted to be back. It is a long time since I have boxed here and getting in front of that crowd will be a huge buzz. Once I walk out there it is game time and I’m ready to go. I have had support from all over the world since Rio. Top Rank have done a great job and made New York feel home from home. I want that rematch with Vladimir Nikitin who got that decision in the Olympics and now Top Rank have signed him, it will happen. They went out of their way to sign him because it has to happen. Dos Santos is a big puncher who is dangerous when he throws hooks and it’s a step up. If I was fighting a nobody fans wouldn’t come. I will have an assassin’s mentality and be destructive. There’s hype around me but I won’t let it get to my head.
 
BRAD JACOBS (TOP RANK, MICHAEL’S PROMOTER)
 
“We’re thrilled to be working with the Conlan family. Michael has been fighting all over the world and we’re thrilled to make this happen. It is up to Michael how quickly he wants to move, but we’re moving up the competition with Dos Santos. A world title challenge could be inside one and a half years.
 
JACK CATTERALL
 
“I’m excited for this fight, but it is a chance for me to showcase what I have been working on. His height isn’t an issue. There is always a way to beat people. I can’t remember much about our sparring to be honest. I want to get the stoppage and to put on a good fight. At the end of the day I want to come out on top. I’m not worried about being the away fighter. Everyone has welcomed me in Belfast and we both have respect.
 
JAMIE MOORE (CATTERALL’S TRAINER)
 
“Jack has been a dream to work with and with him being so talented it makes my job ten times easier. Jack has shown massive improvements in our five months and he will take it to another level. You’ve not scratched the surface with Jack and over the next three years he will go on and on.”
 
TYRONE MCKENNA
 
“I could have got an easier fight, but if I wanted it easy I wouldn’t be boxing. I believe in myself and want to be world champion so when I got the call to fight Jack I took it. Jack is a talented fighter and it is going to need a career best performance from me to win. We have sparred and it was sweet. We were both starting our camps and nobody was on fire. It is about what happens on the night and I can adapt, but I have to be switched on. Jack is world class.”
 
JONO CARROLL
 
“He wasn’t winning the first fight before he was disqualified. He was like Bambi on ice when I hit him. I am looking forward to setting the record straight and Declan is going to get knocked out. It’s an easy night’s work. I am going to box him, fight him and knock him out. I only accepted this fight so he will shut up calling my name. I’m going to batter him and he knows it. I’ve come on big time and he has done nothing since.
 
DECLAN GERAGHTY
 
“He can’t stop traffic. He is gonna get a boxing lesson and fight my game. I can box, he can’t box. Jono is just a pressure fighter. He doesn’t even want to fight you. If I beat him I hope he retires like he said he would on social media.
 
JOHNNY COYLE
 
“I have been knocking on the door and I’m happy to be part of Mick Conlan’s Homecoming. I don’t know much about Benson, but he hasn’t done much as professional. I’m asking for big fights, but have to fight bums like Benson on the way. He isn’t even a good name to have on my record.”
 
LEWIS BENSON
 
“I got laughed at by my German teacher when I said I would be a professional boxer. I hope she is tuning in on Saturday. I am a better boxer than Johnny and everyone will see that. This is sink or swim. I am going to ping him.”
 
TYRONE MCCULLAGH
 
“Joe hasn’t had the balls to show up to the press conference and I hope he turns up on Saturday. I don’t know his game. He even blocked me on social media. It is a great fight against Ham and it’s the first real test for either of us.”
 
Tickets prices £250 (Inner Ring Hospitality), £200 (Outer Ring Hospitality), £120, £100, £80, £60, £50, £40 are available from the SSE Arena website.

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McCULLAGH’S GETTNG SNORTY WITH ‘PIG’ RIVAL HAM


 
TYRONE MCCULLAGH has vowed to rub Joe Ham’s nose in it, after branding his rival a ‘pig’.
 
The pair clash over ten rounds for the vacant Celtic super-bantamweight championship at Belfast’s SSE Arena on Saturday night and it can be seen live on BT Sport.
 
McCullagh and his Glasgow rival have been locked in a verbal battle, but the time has come to shoot from the hip instead of the lip.
 
The Belfast boxer said: “‘The pig’ nickname is just a bit of banter, but I don’t like him because I am going to box him for ten rounds although we will shake hands when my hand is raised.
 
“You can’t like someone you are fighting. He is going down.
 
“He was saying a few things, but he has gone very quiet and blocked me on social media as well.
 
“I don’t know what he is trying with mind games and I hear he isn’t coming over for the press conference. As long as he is there on Friday for the weigh-in and fight night I don’t mind.
 
McCullagh nicknamed ‘White Chocolate’ has won all ten professional contests. Ham also boasts a 100 per-cent record, winning all 14 of his paid fights.
 
McCullagh, 27, added: “It is a great fight and fair play to him for taking it. We are both putting unbeaten records on the line and it makes for a very interesting fight.”
 
As well as the Celtic belt, their fight is an eliminator for the British title which Jazza Dickens and Martin Ward contest next month but McCullagh is in no hurry for that belt.
 
He explained: “There are few obstacles to get over first before I fight for the British title. Jazza Dickens is my team-mate and he is fighting for the British title so we may not fight each other.
 
“We will cross that bridge when it comes to it, but the British title isn’t high on my priorities. I’m Irish at the end of the day.”
 
The bill is topped by Michael Conlan’s Homecoming bout against Brazil’s former world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos.
 
There is an all Dublin rematch when Jono Carroll defends his IBF intercontinental super-featherweight crown against Declan Geraghty. When they met in November 2014, Geraghty was ahead before he was disqualified in the fourth round.
 
The undercard is stacked with top prospects including Lewis Crocker, Sunny Edwards, Padraig McCrory, Taylor McGoldrick, Neslan Machado, Garry Cully plus Johnny Coyle and Lewis Benson who clash over ten rounds.
 
Tickets prices £250 (Inner Ring Hospitality), £200 (Outer Ring Hospitality), £120, £100, £80, £60, £50, £40 are available from the SSE Arena website.

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GARY ‘HELL RAISER’ CORCORAN: “FOR A CHANCE AT THE BRITISH, I’D FIGHT SKEETE, GARTON AND GAVIN ON THE SAME NIGHT!”


 
Returning rumbler Gary Corcoran insists that 2018 is the year that he’ll finally confirm himself ‘top dog’ in Britain’s fast evolving welterweight division.
 
In a 19 fight paid career, the bull strong brawler from an Irish traveller’s site near Paddington has only conceded twice – when conceding natural weight to world class super-welter Liam Williams, and in a gallant WBO challenge to Jeff Horn when 12,000 miles from home. (Both stopped him whilst still vertical and retaliating in round 11).
 
‘Before the end of the year, I want to wrap up the British and then take whatever comes my way,’ states the appropriated named ‘Hellraiser’ who starts his 2018 campaign in an eight rounder on the bonanza Belfast bill this weekend.
 
‘For a chance to win the British welterweight title, I’d fight Brad Skeete, Johnny Garton and Frankie Gavin on the same night!
 
‘Brad and me has been on-off for years and, if it doesn’t happen this year, it’ll probably never happen. I’ve got far more about me than Skeete has. He’s just a pure boxer and he can’t run from me. I’m too strong. I’ll cut him down and bash him up. Gavin, the same. I love bullying those types.
 
‘Me and Johnny Garton for the vacant title is a fight the fans would love to see, two tough London boys. I’d not take him lightly but I’ve fought at a far higher level and I’d be giving him a beating. Like that Josh Kelly (the 2016 GB Olympian), he’s never beaten anyone of note.
 
‘And I’d have no qualms about fighting the Spanish kid (Kerman Lajarraga) who bashed up Skeete for the European title. He only chose Frankie Gavin next cos he knows it’s an easy defence.’
 
While Corcoran’s valour was commonly lauded during his December WBO title challenge on the other side of the globe, the Wembley-born warlord claims he underperformed!
 
‘I really want to impress this year because I’m a lot better than I showed against Horn,’ insists Gary, one of 12 offspring.
 
‘It was a big opportunity for me. I was in Australia for over a month and it was the hardest I ever trained. But I was badly cut in sparring 10 days before the fight and we just about managed to clean it up. I knew it would re-open and Horn landed a couple of head butts in the early rounds. He’s that kind of fighter.
 
‘After that it was so painful. I was well in the fight until half way but I couldn’t pick it up when I needed. The indoor arena was packed and, if I’m honest, I froze on the massive stage. Nothing went my way.
 
‘Horn was a good champion. Losing the title to Terence Crawford – the best in the world pound for pound, in my view – was no disgrace but I should’ve done a lot better. I couldn’t bring to the ring the things I was doing in the gym. But it’s all a learning curve.’
 
Dormant since, fearless Corcoran initially agreed to confront local dangerman Paddy Gallagher for his return on Saturday, only for the 2010 Commonwealth Games champion to bow out with a broken jaw.
 
‘I was really disappointed because I’d trained hard to give that boy a beating. I’d have snapped his jaw in the fight, but someone beat me to it,’ says Corcoran who is coached by Peter Stanley and Frank Greaves at The Peacock gym in Canning Town, east London.
 
‘He’d not fought anywhere near the level of opponent I have yet he’s lost four times, including to an old man (35 year old Yank Brad Solomon) in his last fight. And the cheeky **** says he’s going to knock me out? Laughable!
 
‘I’ve been trying to keep away from social media but I’ll still give him his chance down the line, if he’s got the balls to step in. That’d be quite an easy bashing, I’d give him.
 
‘But the missus’ family are from Belfast so it’s always nice to visit and fight here. When I fought there before in my comeback fight at The Waterfront (wrsf5 James Gorman, March 2017), the Irish were very good to me. Belfast fans always generate a great atmosphere.
 
‘I believe I’m now in an eight rounder (opponent TBA) and I intend to listen to orders and look good, show what I’ve been improving on in camp, sparring top class boys like Kell Brook, Sam Eggington David Avenesyan and Asinia Byfield.
 
‘I’m more sideways on now, everything off the jab, using angles. That said, the ‘Hellraiser’ will always be there – you can’t coach that – and if I have to charge forward like a train I will do.
 
‘But I want to wake up on Sunday morning with no pain to my eyes, my head or my hands. This time, I intend to win as clean as possible.’

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TYRONE McKENNA: “IF CATTERALL WANTS A WAR, WE WAR!”


 
Belfast beanpole Tyrone McKenna believes that a clinical victory over world-rated ex British champion Jack Catterall at The Odyssey Arena in his home city this weekend, could catapult the former Junior Olympic medallist into a world title gig with Dallas’s angular WBO king Maurice Hooker.
 
‘Hooker v McKenna. Freak against Freak! I’m just concentrating on Saturday but, yeh, let’s bring ‘Mighty Mo’ to Belfast. He’s definitely beatable,’ states the 6ft 1in southpaw – known as ‘Bones’ – who is unbeaten in 17 (one TD) since kickstarting his pro innings on the US East Coast back in August 2012.
 
‘Once I beat Catterall and establish my name, I want the big fights as soon as possible. I’ve been pleading for these types of fights for a while. I’m ready to take on the world!’
 
Eight months back, the former six-time All Ireland amateur king was still to venture beyond round six in a slow burning career. However, subsequent gritty and educational 10 round wins over French nugget Renald Garrido and 17-1 city rival Anthony Upton have plugged the gap.
 
‘You could throw a stone from my garden and hit Upton’s house so there was a lot of west Belfast pride involved; a bit of needle. There’s no way I could’ve shown my face around here, if I’d lost to him,’ says the swift and slingy sharpshooter.
 
‘Anthony is a tricky, sharp switch hitter, a very good boxer but, on the night, he just wanted to move. It was a bit frustrating because I trained very hard and sparring went unbelievably well. Still, I demonstrated a bit of power to drop him in the ninth and won comfortably enough on the cards. It told me a lot about where I’m at, in fighting terms. He’d beaten me in the amateurs but I got my revenge where it mattered.’
 
Nevertheless, the crossroads clash against 21-0 ‘El Gato’ Catterall, ranked fifth by the WBO, represents another sizeable step-up.
 
‘Basically, I’ve had to step in because that mouthpiece Ohara Davies didn’t have the balls. One hundred per cent Davies can have it next, after I win on Saturday. I’ll gladly end his career,’ says the 28 year old Ulsterman who is managed by MTK Global and coached by Danny Vaughan in Glasgow.
 
‘Jack and I have sparred in the past and we get along, talk quite often on social media. As a fan, I enjoy watching him fight. He’s always entertaining and he’s a solid all-rounder. It’s sure to be a tough night for me.
 
‘But it’s a test I’m more than ready for. Since switching to Danny two years ago, I’ve grown as a fighter. He’s got me training very hard and eating right. My defence is much improved and I’m finally sitting down on my punches.’
 
The odds setters enlist McKenna as a generous 4-1 outsider, remarkable given that the southpaw enters with a six inch reach height advantage and enjoys home court……and there’s no home advantage quite like a Belfast home advantage!
 
‘The size differential makes no difference. I have to punch down but I had well over 100 amateur contests and encountered every style and size. Some highlight that I’ve ‘advantages’ but I’ve never been in the boxing game to jab and move. I love to entertain the fans,’ claims ‘The Mighty Celt’.
 
‘Boxing a fellow southpaw won’t be an issue either. I’ve done most of my sparring with Tom Stalker, Jono Carroll and Sam Maxwell, who switches. Sometimes I prefer a southpaw for a change.
 
The collision with Catterall represents Tyrone’s sixth successive start in the Ulster capital.
 
‘There’s zero pressure on me. Jack holds the belt, he’s the odds -on favourite, he’s the one saying I’m ‘easy work’,’ he says.
 
‘I’ve fought before at the Waterfront and SSE in Belfast and the fans give you a big, big drive. Our fight is likely to be just before Mick (Conlan)’s big homecoming so the hall should be rammed and I guarantee it’ll daunt Jack Catterall. I believe it’ll affect his performance and inspire me.
 
‘I’m fit and ready to rumble. If Catterall wants to war, we war!’ He’s talking of making it a hat-trick of one round wins in a row so maybe he’ll steam out for an early ‘kill’. However, if he tries to box instead, I’ll outsmart him. I’ve far greater amateur experience and I’d pitch my boxing brain against anyone else’s in the division. Either way, baby!
 
‘Jack says he’s not underestimating me but he keeps talking about future fights with Ohara Davies and Maurice Hooker. Hold on …..! First, he’s got to get past a 6ft 1in southpaw who’s a nightmare for any one.
 
‘I’ve faster hands, faster feet and think speed will be a key factor. With 8oz gloves on, a stoppage is possible. I won’t be looking for it, but I certainly punch hard enough. If I execute my game plan, I expect it to be a comfortable night for me.’

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JACK CATTERALL: “NATHAN BROUGH WAS THE SAME SIZE AS McKENNA. WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM? LEFT SNOOZING!”


 
If unbeaten ex British light-welter king Jack Catterall has any shortcomings as he storms towards a world title shot, lack of self-belief is clearly not among them.
 
The power-packed Chorley southpaw is currently ranked fifth and rising in the queue to face WBO boss Maurice Hooker from Dallas. However, this weekend, ‘El Gato’, still only 24, gambles all against a much avoided 6ft 1in southpaw, performing in their home city.
 
When said southpaw is 16-0-1TD ex amateur standout Tyrone McKenna and the home crowd hails from Belfast, the task clearly magnifies.
 
‘Beating Tyrone in his own backyard will just make the victory so much sweeter,’ quips the clearly non-plussed Lancastrian who has eliminated all 21 prior pro opponents, stopping a dozen (often in spectacular fashion!)
 
‘I’ve never been to Belfast so that’s a new experience but I’m very aware of how hostile the Fighting Irish crowd is. I don’t particularly want any cups of p*** chucked over me but I’m actually excited by experiencing their passion. They’re a proper fight crowd who’ll make a lot of noise and, whether that’s for me or their man Tyrone, it’s a good thing.’
 
It isn’t just the crowd that Catterall will need to conquer. ‘Bones’ McKenna is a six-time All-Ireland amateur champion and Junior Olympic medallist who has also swept all before him since shedding his singlet.
 
‘I’ve studied Tyrone a great deal yet I’ve never seen him in a fight against anyone good enough to cause him problems,’ claims the Jamie Moore coached, MTK Global managed bulldozer who flattened both of his previous 2018 opponents inside the opening frame.
 
‘We’ve been working on stuff we need to combat and expose the flaws McKenna’s known to have. He seems to keep his hands low yet his past history suggests that he’ll come to slug. Against me, that’s the wrong thing to do. Even if he TRIES to box me, he’ll soon return to type. I’ll not have to go looking for him.’
 
Just 5ft 7in on his tiptoes, Catterall might require a step ladder to locate McKenna’s whiskers but he has always exhibited a relentless and remorseless body attack.
 
‘I’ve been sparring plenty of tall southpaws for this,’ says joltin’ Jack, a former national CYP champ and England amateur international.
 
‘I’ve never been the tallest for my weight so I’m used to conceding. Anyway, Tyrone doesn’t make the best of the (physical) advantages he enjoys. He’s no Bradley Skeete. The way Tyrone fights, he’s not the hardest to find. Besides, Nathan Brough was the same size as Ty and what happened to him? Left snoozing! (Catterall iced the World Junior medallist with a single left hand back in 2014).
 
‘And I’ve beaten several southpaws before. Tom Stalker was a southpaw (stopped in eight). All our preparation has been geared towards southpaws. That said, if Tyrone was foolish enough to come out orthodox I’d quickly adapt. That’s one of my best qualities.
 
‘Tyrone’s a good fighter but he’ll find I’m better. Yes, he’s older and brings a better amateur pedigree but I’m the more experienced professional, I’ve come through trickier fights. I’ve better speed, power, timing. I’ve got it all.
 
‘I’ll not be remotely concerned about what McKenna tries to do. I’ll go into the fight and establish myself. He can react to me. If he wants a phone box war, he’ll get one. I’ll be too strong, too powerful and once I land one on his whiskers, he’ll not want to engage.
 
‘I’m fit and ready for 10 very hard rounds. I’m not daft. I know I’m not Gennady Golovkin and you have to have a strategy. But there’s a good chance I’ll stop him.
 
‘I’ll need to put on a masterclass to beat a Belfast boy in Belfast and that’s exactly what I intend to deliver.’

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MCKENNA DOESN’T WANT INSIDE INFO FROM PAL FRAMPTON


 
TYRONE MCKENNA is refusing to ask Carl Frampton for secrets on big fight rival Jack Catterall.
 
He challenges for Catterall’s WBO Intercontinental Super-Lightweight crown at Belfast’s SSE Arena on Saturday in a fight where Frampton must be dreading which side to support.
 
The two-weight world champion is a close friend of McKenna and trains alongside Catterall at their trainer Jamie Moore’s gym on the outskirts of Manchester.
 
Catterall has taken the BT Sport televised fight at short notice and replaces injured Phil Sutcliffe.
 
McKenna, 28, said: “Carl was actually supposed to walk me out to the ring for the fight when Phil was the opponent, but that has changed. I wouldn’t want Carl in an awkward position.
 
“I was going to fight Tommy Coyle before and he was in camp with Carl. I always seem to be fighting friends or friends of friends. Everyone in boxing seems to know each other.
 
“I would never put Carl in the position where he talks about one of his gym mates. I wouldn’t like him to fight one of my team mates and ask about them.
 
“There is a line which you never cross during camp and I would never ask Carl, ‘How is Jack getting on in sparring? How is he doing with his weight?’
 
“I wouldn’t expect him to say to Jack what he knows about me and he wouldn’t get involved in that. There has to be respect.”
 
McKenna who is unbeaten in 17 fights has seen his profile grow in the last 12 months and the 6ft 1in southpaw believes his popularity will mushroom after this weekend’s fight that has captured the imagination.
 
Tyrone who outpointed Anthony Upton in his last fight added: “My last six fights have been on TV and I have a big fan base now.
 
“I have never taken an easy fight or turned down a fight. I was offered Jack when Phil pulled out and straight away I said, ’Yes’”.
 
The bill is topped by Michael Conlan’s Homecoming bout against Brazil’s former world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos.
 
There is an all Dublin rematch when Jono Carroll defends his IBF intercontinental super featherweight crown against Declan Geraghty.
 
When they met in November 2014, Geraghty was ahead before he was disqualified in the fourth round. In a clash of unbeaten hopefuls,
 
Derry’s Tyrone McCullagh meets Glasgow’s Joe Ham in a vacant Celtic super-bantamweight title clash that doubles as a British championship eliminator.
 
The undercard is stacked with top prospects including Lewis Crocker, Sunny Edwards, Padraig McCrory, Taylor McGoldrick, Neslan Machado, Garry Cully plus Johnny Coyle and Lewis Benson who clash over ten rounds.
 
Tickets prices £250 (Inner Ring Hospitality), £200 (Outer Ring Hospitality), £120, £100, £80, £60, £50, £40 are available from the SSE Arena website.

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