Tyrone McKenna
Some things just fall into place.  They are meant to be.  For the last 12 months, Tyrone McKenna has been calling out the names of the established super lightweights of the UK scene, but nobody has taken the bait.  In a division so stacked with talent, it had appeared that there was man in Northern Ireland who was being left out of the party.  But then it happened, the puzzle aligned and the undefeated 27 year old has been given the chance of confirmation he has requested.  Former British title challenger from Hull, Tommy Coyle, signed the paper work.
“I’ve asked for big names after every fight I’ve had and it started to look like people were dodging me, I was getting worried nobody would ever fight me!  Tommy Coyle though grew a set of plums and has taken the challenge” says McKenna. 
It is the biggest fight of the Belfast man’s career, taking on the battle hardened Coyle.  But it gets better.  On October 21st, the fight will take place in McKenna’s home town of Belfast, on the undercard of Ryan Burnett’s world title unification against Zhanat Zhakiyanov.  The stylish Burnett, who captured his IBF world title in June, is looking to unify with the WBA champion, and it has opened the door for McKenna to fight in front of his home fans.
“It’s perfect!  Normally a lot of people would have to go away for this kind of opportunity.  Obviously with Tommy’s name he’s seen as more of the bigger fighter, but to get it into my home town I’m delighted.  I’m going to have some serious support, Belfast is a serious fighting town so it’ll be great on the night.  I was on the Irish boxing team with Carl Frampton and Ryan Burnett and to see them go on to world titles, I see it as my time to get up there.  There’s a lot of buzz for professional boxing right now in Belfast, there used to just be a buzz for the amateurs.  Professional boxing has really taken over Belfast and it’s great to see.”
When the conversation turns to Tommy Coyle and the inevitable battle that awaits, McKenna is happy to concede that experience may lay on the side of his opponent.  However, he is also confident that he is bring a skillset to the ring that despite Coyle’s many wars, he won’t have encountered or prepared for before.
“He’s never seen a six foot one southpaw!” laughs Tyrone.  “I don’t know how you prepare for that, sparring partners and training wise, it’s a completely different fight to anything he’s ever had.  He’s fought Luke Campbell, who’s tall and southpaw, but he’s still smaller than me.  I don’t fight like a conventional southpaw, boxing and moving all the time, I like to stay in the centre of the ring and fight too.  Anyone who has seen my last few fights on TV will know I bring excitement; I don’t just dodge and move and slip, I go in there to fight.  He does the same, so it’ll be an exciting night.”
Given that this will be the 16th fight of an unblemished career for McKenna, is there any concern that it is being presented too early against a man who will be entering the ring for the 28th time?
“No, not one bit” he tells me, almost taken aback at the thought.  “I’ve been sparring the likes of Derry Matthews who beat him, Jack Catterall last week, some of the top people.  I know where I am.  I may not have had the same hard fights as Tommy Coyle but I’ve had hard spars and I know what level I’m at.  The two times I’ve fought undefeated guys domestically I’ve either knocked them out or retired them.  I’m past that level and at a stage where I have to take this kind of fight and it’s perfect to judge where I’m at in my career.”
Could this then be the breakout fight that McKenna needs, one that can introduce him to a wider audience and put his name amongst those at the top of the domestic division?  “100% it is.  My last three fights have been on TV and I’ve been getting more notoriety, but this is a massive step up and a chance for me to get in the mix in the UK.”
He sees this as the last chance for Coyle to achieve his own dreams.  Both aged 27, despite their respective career, as McKenna puts it “He’s had so many tough fights and this is really his last chance to show that he can get anywhere, but if he gets beaten again then where does he go?”.  For Tyrone though, he is already looking at his own potential routes for after October 21st.  “Once I win, that fight puts me in the mix with the top British fighters, the likes of Tyrone Nurse and Jack Catterall, Ohara Davies.  Me and Ohara have been going on Twitter for a little while so maybe we can have that fight.”
Winning presents an opportunity to establish another start in Northern Ireland’s capital.  Already playing host to Burnett and Frampton amongst other names, McKenna sees the chance to re-anchor boxing in the city.
“Belfast is the boxing capital of the UK, 100% and always has been the cream of the crop.  There was a wee spell where not a lot was happening but now it’s really going again, there’s the top names and a lot of prospects coming through too.  We’ve got world champions, European champions at different weights.  It’s great to see boxing back in Belfast, even the amateur clubs are buzzing, there’s loads of kids getting back into boxing clubs it’s great to see.”
The fight may be matched well in age, with experience favouring the away fighter, but it is a crossroads bout.  McKenna knows that and is relishing that Coyle will be coming to claim the win himself.  It has the markings of a great clash, two honorable and respectful men, both at different stages, with potentially different long term goals to achieve.  It makes it all the more intriguing for October 21st, a night where a new Belfast boxing star may come out of the shadows.
Tyrone wanted to thanks his sponsors, Pain Pro and Suiter Bros, both of whom make it possible to achieve his aims in professional boxing.