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New priorities for returning Tennyson

James Tennyson takes on Garry Neale in the main event of Saturday having just become a father for the first time James Tennyson takes on Garry Neale in the main event of Saturday having just become a father for the first time
By David Mohan

IT’S a new year, new start, new weight division and new priorities for James Tennyson who dips his toes at lightweight for the first time this Saturday when he tops the bill on Mark Dunlop’s ‘A Night To Remember’ card at the Ulster Hall.

‘The Assassin’ makes his return to action for the first time since his unsuccessful challenge for Tevin Farmer’s IBF super-featherweight title in Boston as he begins the long road back to the top.

There is a planned defence of the Commonwealth super-feather title he still holds at the end of March, so the switch to the 135lb division appears temporary for now, although at 25 years-old, the Poleglass puncher continues to mature physically and his future may lie at the heavier weight.

“This is part of the plan in a way,” explained Tennyson.

“We’re just going to have a look and see how I get on weight-wise for this one and take it as we go along. We will see how this one goes.

“I’m maybe starting to get a bit too big for super-featherweight now, so the chances are I will stay at lightweight, but we’ll see how I get on now.”

There have also been big changes outside the ring recently with the arrival of his first child, James Jnr.
With a family now, the priorities have changed somewhat and he is grateful to his partner, Carli for her support ahead of Saturday’s 10-round fight against Garry Neale.

“Things are very different, so you take advantage of the time you have to get all the rest you can get,” he laughed.

“My girlfriend has taken over a lot of control so I can concentrate on this fight, so that’s been good. I’ve been getting it a bit easier than she has, so I can’t complain!

“There’s more of a purpose now behind all of the training. I’m not just doing this for myself anymore.”

There will be a familiarity to his return as Tennyson has been forced to bounce back from disappointments before.

Following an unsuccessful challenge to Ryan Walsh for the British featherweight title in 2016, the West Belfast man put together six good wins that saw him claim WBA International, European, Commonwealth and Irish titles.

Therefore, the return is a little less daunting having been there and done it and he is fully focused on getting himself back into position for a crack at world honours with time very much on his side.

“I know what I need to do because I have been here before,” he agreed.

“I have been working hard, so I’m ready to get the win and push my career on and back up to where it was. I know what I need to do and I’m ready for what lies ahead.”

He will want to continue a memorable start to 2019 professionally and personally with an eye-catching win over Portsmouth’s Neale who will travel to Belfast having won all 10 of his fights to date.

While there is a step up in weight for Tennyson, there is a seismic shift in class of opponent for the 30 year-old visitor, who will face an ex-European champion and world title challenger having yet to defeat an opponent with a winning record.

Still, a winning habit generates momentum and Neale will travel with confidence so Tennyson says he must respect the man in the opposite corner and he will be taking nothing for granted as he aims to get back to winning ways and improve on his record of 22-3.

“He will be coming to win,” acknowledges the home favourite.

“A win for him here sets him up for a big title fight and will send his career in the direction he wants it to go.

“I have to be focuses on Garry Neale and get the job done. After this week we will see where we go, but I’m not looking past this. He’s coming over here to win so I would be foolish to look past it.”

Elsewhere on the card, Paul Hyland Jnr faces Czech light-welterweight champion, Miroslav Serban over 10 rounds at lightweight; Tommy McCarthy warms up for next month’s WBA Inter-Continental cruiserweight title fight against Richard Riakporhe with a workout against Czech tough-nut, Jiri Svacina; Feargal McCrory and Karl Kelly meet for the Irish lightweight crown; Matthew Fitzsimons returns following his stoppage loss last time with a four-rounder against Jamie Quinn; Luke Wilson takes on Patrik Bartos and Cathy McAleer faces Sonia Klos.

Boxing begins at 6.30pm and there are a limited number of tickets left at the box office.

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