By: Michael Kane
Tyrone McKenna took on Scotland’s Lewis Benson last month in Benson’s home country and came away with a decision win. McKenna and Benson both were coming off of defeats in their previous bouts and this could have been considered must win for both, McKenna won and Benson announced his retirement.
Boxing Insider spoke with the Belfast man, McKenna to find out his thoughts on the fight, what’s next and how his nickname came about.
Did the fight play out as he expected?
“The fight did play out how I expected,” McKenna said. “I knew, because I was fighting in the away corner in his country, I couldn’t afford to sit back, I knew I had to push forward, be the aggressor, to take the rounds and that’s what I did from the start.
“I thought he might have died off in the later rounds but credit to him he stuck in there. I wasn’t 100 percent delighted with my performance I knew there was a lot more that I could have done but felt a bit flat that night from round 1. Even though feeling flat, I was still the one going forward, pressuring the fight and landing the bigger more telling shots he never really troubled me in the fight and I was never worried.”
Immediately after the closely fought fight, Benson was clearly disappointed with the decision and stated he was finished with the sport. Recently it appears he wants a rematch. However McKenna is not convinced by that proposal.
“Yeah, I seen he was asking for a rematch but no I beat him in his home country, he’s got two loses on the trot, he’s way down the rankings, he has no belts, he isn’t a big name, he isn’t a big draw! So he doesn’t bring anything to the table, it’s not something i’m remotely interested in looking to the future.” McKenna stated.
McKenna is part of a generation of Irish boxers where big things are expected and having came through the ranks with the likes of Olympians, Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes and European champion Tyrone McCullagh, McKenna says they are still close and he’s looking forward to a few of them fighting this weekend in Manchester, when possibly the highest profile boxer that emerged as part of that group, Carl Frampton bids to regain another world championship.
“Yeah, myself, Carl, Mick, Tommy McCarthy, Paddy and Tyrone all grew up on the Irish Elite team together and travelled the world with a few of them. They are some of my best mates not only in boxing but outside too.”
How does McKenna see his friends fare this weekend?
“Well Paddy has a routine win working his way back into world title contention, so he’s out to show his class and show he belongs with the top fighters in the world.” McKenna said. “Mick is going to put on a masterclass on Saturday. I believe his opponent suits his style and will make him look really good. And of course Carl, people are saying its a tight fight and will be close but I believe Carl will be too strong and finish the job within 8 rounds.”
McKenna’s nickname is the Mighty Celt, which hailing from Ireland might be expected however he took the name as he started in a movie with Robert Carlyle and Gillian Anderson called ‘The Mighty Celt’.
How did his part in the movie come about?
McKenna explains, “Well it was just really by chance, I never had really pursued acting. Casting directors came to every school in Belfast basically and told everyone to come down to audition, so around 3000 kids went for the role and I only went down because my friends were going. After six or seven auditions I finally landed the lead role, haha.
“Boxing was always my main passion, although I loved acting, I know it will always be there after boxing and boxing is a short lived career.”
Where does McKenna see himself this time next year?
“I hope to have picked up a few belts at least and be in a few major fights. I see Joe Hughes won that EBU title, I’d love a crack at that. Hopefully by the end of the year be in with a shot at a world title eliminator or even world title shot.”
What inspires McKenna?
“My biggest inspiration isn’t really a person but being able to give back to the sport, the way fighters before have given back like Carl Frampton, that inspires me to train harder and make it!”