James Tennyson is hoping Jono Carroll can pull off the upset against Tevin Farmer next month, but the Belfast banger admits it’ll be a tough task. Speaking shortly after destroying Garry Neale in the Ulster Hall at the beginning of February, Tennyson knows what it’s like to get up close and personal with Philly mover Farmer.
“It’s going to be a tough fight for Jono. He’s from home, and I’d love to see him do it,” said Tennyson. “It’ll be a really good battle between them. Two southpaws, both with similar styles, so it has the makings of a good fight.”
Tennyson’s big chance (in Boston last October) ended in the fifth round after some pinpoint Farmer shots and a twitch of concern from referee Arthur Mercante Jr who always airs on the side of caution. Tennyson’s coach Tony Dunlop reminded assembled media that is charge is only 25 years of age, still improving, and capable of returning to compete at the very highest level when the full maturation process has taken place.
“James turned pro at 18, he’s been well managed, and he’s fought a lot of good fighters,” explained Tony, an exciting fighter himself back in the day. “Any losses he’s had is all experience. He’s got the heart of a fighter, the mind of a fighter, and a warrior. Defeat to him is just a learning experience. At the age of 25 you’ve seen the experience and the class there tonight.”
Portsmouth’s Neale arrived unbeaten in 10, full of pride and with no shortage of courage. However, having only one knockout win on the slate immediately signalled cause for alarm. At this level if you haven’t got a respectable enough dig to keep a big, physically imposing puncher like Tennyson at bay then you’re in for a short night’s work – and not in a good way.
“How did I ever make featherweight?! I don’t know how I was making it,” mused Tennyson.
Indeed, there was not a pick of fat on the Poleglass puncher. Shy of taking a leg off he may have to continue at a higher weight category rather than attempting to boil back down to defend his Commonwealth super-featherweight crown.
‘The Assassin’ added: “I’ve just filled out a bit and there’s nothing you can do about it. Dipping the toes at lightweight [just above] I felt a lot stronger – a whole lot better. I think maybe I am better suited to lightweight than what I was. My body transformed itself as I’ve filled out a wee bit. I think maybe I can just stay at lightweight because I felt strong and comfortable.”
After losing the world title fight, it was just a case of getting back into the ring after a sustained rest period and putting another win on BoxRec.
“I wanted to get back to winning ways,” agreed James. “We’ll see what comes up now. My 0 has gone a while ago, so a loss now realistically doesn’t define my career. Every fight I’m building experience and learning. An 0 means nothing to me; I’m still young, I’ve got time on my side. A few years down the line I’ll be a lot better fighter with all these rounds of experience under my belt.”
At lightweight, a reinvigorated version of Tennyson will be a handful for anyone around the British or European circuit. But why stop there?
“We’re going for Lomachenko!” joked Tony Dunlop.