Nuclear punching Northern Irish featherweight James Tennyson swaggers into London this weekend intent on relieving Ryan Walsh of his British title, exclusively live on BoxNation.
The Lisburn born ‘Assassin’ has clattered 13 of his 16 victims to early defeat since debuting as a teenager in 2012 and he knows his best route to bagging a Lonsdale Belt rests with him leaving the Norfolk man gazing up at the ring lights.
Thus far, the 22 year olds potent punching means that, on average, his fights conclude inside three rounds.
‘It’s difficult to explain. I think it’s just a case of my aggression and natural strength,’ says the Tony Dunlop coached, Mark Dunlop managed banger who recently penned a promotional deal with Frank Warren.
‘Once the bell goes I work very hard to get the job (stoppage) done and it just happens. I’ve no pet punch. If I land precisely with any shot, I’m capable of doing damage.
‘As an amateur, I was in plenty of good scraps but I really didn’t stop many. The kayos only started to come as a pro once my body started to mature and I’m only 22. Trust me, there’s a lot more physical development to come. In future, I’m only going to punch even harder.’
Tennyson’s 17 fight slate lists just 47 rounds and – despite Irish and Celtic title experience – he is yet to venture past session eight. Nevertheless, he is confident that a long and decorated career in the amateur code will help address the shortfall.
He explains: ‘I had my first amateur bout at Becketts Bar in Lisburn in 2001, aged 7!
‘As a wee kid I had a real bad temper so my ma took me to the Poleglass boxing gym to knock it out of me. It worked the trick, calmed me down.
‘Starting out, I was just a rough kid swinging shots but I progressed to win five Ulster titles, five Antrim titles, three All-Irelands plus multi-nations golds at international level. I had just over a hundred bouts and only lost 12.’
But after coasting to eight wins (seven quick) and the Irish super-feather title during his initial nine months punching for pay, our ‘Assassin’ was alarmingly rubbed out inside two rounds by Mansfield based Latvian Pavels Senkovs (previously triumphant in just two of 71!)
James recalls: ‘First round I was actually boxing beautifully then second round I got caught. I’m not sure whether it was with a punch or a head but I went over. The ref called it a slip but, to be honest, I was all over the place. Pavels tagged me again and the ref jumped in.
‘Defeat took quite a while to sink in. My career was going along just great then ‘Boom’! I had a taste of the treatment I’d been dishing out and it wasn’t nice. But there were positives that came from it. I became even more motivated and changed in every way – physical, mental, psychological – to prevent ever having that feeling again.’
Eight subsequent wins and the acquisition of the Celtic title courtesy of a seventh round disqualification against Scotland’s two-time Commonwealth challenger Kris Hughes have consigned the shocker against Senkovs to the distant memory bank.
And despite the concession of home turf, Tennyson was bursting with youthful exuberance ahead of his British title gig at the Copper Box on Saturday.
‘I’m actually really looking forward to coming over to the mainland and showing Frank Warren, the English fans and BoxNation viewers what I’m all about,’ says Tennyson who has been priming himself at the Belfast Kronk gym.
‘I boxed in places like Azerbaijan and Portugal as an amateur plus Estonia, Hungary and Scotland as a pro so I’ll not be at all fazed.
And while the battle-hardened champion is clearly more seasoned, the Ulster hope predicts his greater physicality and firepower will see him coronated.
‘I’ve watched a few of Ryan’s fights and he’s a very worthy champion, picks his shots lovely, doesn’t waste much,’ he concludes.
‘I suppose Walsh will start a big favourite but anything can happen in the sport of boxing. There’s been plenty of upsets before.
‘Recently Ryan was fighting down at super-bantam while I’ve won titles up at super-feather. I expect to be the bigger man in the ring and intend to make that pay for me.
‘No doubt there’ll be times when we box and times when we open up and ‘war’. Either way, I can mix things up. The fans will definitely get their monies worth.
‘I’m not coming to London to see the sights. I’m coming to take the British title.’
Introduction to Tony Bange
Dynamite-punching Wraysbury welter Tony Bange debuts this weekend in a four rounder against Bulgaria’s Teodor Stefanov at The Copper Box on Saturday, writes Glynn Evans.
The Berkshire bomber’s unbridled aggression and concussive punching made him a huge hit in the Eurosport-televised Queensbury Boxing League and he now threatens to wreak similar carnage operating under the jurisdiction of the British Boxing Board of Control.
‘I had 30 on the Queensberry Boxing League circuit and I never lost. I won everything. However, I had aspirations to be a boxing world champion so I had to apply for a Board (of Control) licence,’ explains the 25 year old who shall be mentored and managed by Hall of Fame superstar Naseem Hamed.
‘Naseem is a friend of my fathers and we met before my first on the Queensberry Boxing League. Naz has been like a second father to me.
‘When I contemplated going pro I said to him: ‘Please be honest. If you don’t think I can do it, tell me.’ He replied that he not only did he like what he saw, he wanted to manage me! He named me ‘TNT Explosive’ after watching me smash the pads.
‘Naz has shown me how to control a fight. He also brought in a punching specialist for me. His cousin (Anas Oweida) trains me. Naz knows the right people we need to get involved and the right route to steer me. He freely shares his knowledge and does pads with me.’
Unarmed combat has been a staple in the Hillingdon born hope’s life since his primary school years.
He recalls: ‘Dad boxed amateur and, from the age of just five or six, he taught us how us to look after ourselves. He was my coach for my first 10 years. At school, I was very cocky so I was always in a fight. I had to be able to handle myself otherwise I’d have got battered every day!
‘Then, between the ages of 14 and 17, I had 10 or 11 amateur fights at the Hayes ABC, before drifting into the unlicensed thing.
‘The experience that I gained in the Queensbury Boxing League will certainly help me with regard to performing before a crowd. Also, there were plenty of ex pros on that circuit. I once beat Daryl Setterfield. There was a time when I used to fight up at cruiserweight so no welterweight is going to scare me. I’m used to being hit hard by big men.’
Whilst there are unquestionably a few rough edges that still require planing before he can contemplate title fights, the savage Sikh insists he’ll not be caught short with regard to application.
Boxing is my life, it’s all I do,’ he says.
‘I train three times a day, cardio first thing, boxing gym during the day then a strength and conditioning session before I go to bed. In between, the only TV that is on in my house is BoxNation. I particularly study the older stuff; the Tyson era, the Naz era, the Masters!’
After the disappointment of a false dawn when the proposed Harrow bill was scrapped earlier this month, banger Bange can’t wait to fly out of the traps and showcase his explosive wares on Saturday. And he enters with the incentive that an impressive showing should secure a berth on Vijender Singh’s homecoming show in India this June.
‘My family originates from the Punjab – I was there myself six months ago – so a slot on the bill in Delhi would be unbelievable,’ he admits.
But first he is promising capital fight fans a debut to savour.
‘Stylewise, I’m told I’m similar to Mike Tyson, lots of head movement and serious power in both hands. It all comes through timing and I love to work the body. In my last ‘unlicensed’ fight they had to stretcher the guy out the ring after I broke his ribs,’ he states.
‘I don’t still want to be boxing after the age of 30 so it’s going to be a quick ride, smash and grab! This year is all about building a platform and getting my name out there. I’m exciting. Just you wait and see.’