This Saturday night the boxing world will be eagerly waiting to see Denzel Bentley face-off against Felix Cash. However, James Heneghan will be anticipating making his Queensberry Promotions debut.
Heneghan (4-0) will be making not just his promotional debut, but it’ll also be his first bout at middleweight as he faces Dwain Grant, who already has the undefeated record of Ritchie Gray on his record, as he looks to repeat the feat this weekend.
The 22-year-old is relishing the opportunity under the promotional giants after being told he had been signed by Frank Warren whilst he was on a lads holiday initially thinking the call was a prank.
“I was over the moon when I found out.” he told proboxing-fans.com.
“I was actually on holiday when I found out, with my mates we were in Spain, and I got the phone call off of Robert Warren and told me. At first I thought ‘what’s going on here is it a wind up?’ but then my coach called me and told me.
“It was surreal really, all the hard work paid off. But, at the same time it’s a motivation to push on and to do more and to show why I’ve been signed by Frank Warren.”
It has been 14 months since Heneghan stepped through the ropes to compete but it’s not been time wasted for the Liverpudlian, as he has a positive outlook on the time that’s passed.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in there. It’s been just over 12 months so I’ve got itchy knuckles. I’m looking forward to picking up where I left off.
“Don’t get me wrong it’s frustrating, like many other boxers if you gave me the opportunity I’d fight every week, but it is what it is. I’m still only 22, I’m young in terms of boxing.
“If I was later on in my career, missing out on bigger pay days or didn’t have many more years I would be a bit more frustrated but I’m young so this 12 months I’ve just developed as a fighter. I’ve been around other fighters in the gym learning but now it’s back to where we left off.”
Boxing was a sport that was loved in the Heneghan household over the years, but it wasn’t until later on in his childhood that James realised it was what he wanted to pursue.
“To be honest I first got into boxing, because I weren’t the best at footy!
“My dad’s always been around the boxing gym and his mates always done a bit.
“I went to the gym and I was a bit 50/50 on it, I wasn’t too sure whether I liked it or not. I went once and done a few sessions and I left it for a few months before going back and I stuck at it then and I’m still going years and years and years on.”
Once boxing had seeped into the bloodstream Heneghan was hooked and didn’t look back once.
“When I was 15 or 16-years-old I was a quiet kid in school so when I said I wanted to box when I’m older people probably looked at me like, ‘what’s he on about?!’ but now I can’t picture myself doing anything else.”
A successful amateur career followed for James winning 34 of 40 bouts. But it wasn’t the victories that taught him the most it was realising why he lost the fights he did which stuck with him.
“I was a good amateur, don’t get me wrong I wasn’t a world beater as an amateur, but I think that was down to [the fact] I had a lack of confidence as an amateur.
“In some fights I would face brilliant kids and they were really hard to beat and I would beat them and then there would be a fight that I should win and I didn’t because I would take my mind off it maybe, I don’t know, but that’s as I turned over into the pros I had to work on.”
It begged the question, what has James changed now he is a professional fighter?
“It’s just the way I see things. Now I’ll see things I do in the gym and instead of doubting myself on them I’ll take them and I will realise the good in doing them things.
“I think it comes from me being my own biggest critic. In boxing I’d like to consider myself a perfectionist. If I see something I don’t like I will want to get rid of it, even if it’s just pad work, bag work.
“I’ve realised now a bad session doesn’t mean you’re not the best.”
James made his debut against Genadij Krajevskij in April 2019 beating the Lithuanian on the scorecards. It was a night to remember for the middleweight.
“Obviously I’d only fought on amateur shows prior. I never experienced the buzz of a big crowd and the noise of it.
“On my debut when I experienced it, it’s probably something that’ll stick with me for the rest of my life.
“The walk to the ring, the noise, you could see all the eyes on you. It was a good experience. Hopefully when the crowds come back I get plenty more of those experiences.”
Saturday night will be behind closed doors which has been the norm since the return of UK boxing in June 2020, however it will be a new experience for James and one he is excited about.
“It’s going to be different, it’s definitely going to be something. I’m lucky I get the opportunity to experience it where not many other fighters will be able to say they experienced it which I’m grateful for.
“Fighting with nobody there is something I can adapt to because 90% of your spars in the gym it’s just you, your opponent and their coach, so it’s something we’ll get used to when we’re in there, but it’ll be weird walking out in dead silence with no fans there.”
Dwain Grant, the opponent, enters the ring with the record of 3-8-1, but is a man not to be underestimated according to Heneghan.
“We’ve watched bits of him, he’s an awkward fighter, he’s got good technical skills and he’s taken unbeaten fighters records so he’s not to be looked past.
“The problem I’ve had with previous opponents is that they have gone into their shell straight away. I don’t believe he’ll do that because that’ll bring out the best in my ability as well.”
Check out the full interview with James Heneghan here: