James Tennyson fired up for biggest test of his boxing career
It has been a road with a few twists and turns and now James Tennyson finds himself at the point where he could catapult himself towards a world title shot.
On Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London, Tennyson steps up to face European super-featherweight champion Martin Ward, two years on from his painful loss to Ryan Walsh in a British featherweight title clash. In between that defeat he has chalked up five straight victories, which included three dramatic stoppages.
Having bagged the World Boxing Association's international super-feather title, Tennyson has earned himself a high ranking by that governing body but Ward is easily his toughest test so far and it comes on an ideal stage for the Belfast man.
The 24-year-old admits that he draws inspiration from the phenomenal exploits of two-weight world champion Carl Frampton, with whom he has sparred on a few occasions. Indeed, it was Tennyson who almost caused the Jackal's money-spinning 2016 clash with Scott Quigg to be cancelled. Frampton was having his last spar around 10 days out from the World super-bantamweight unification title fight when Tennyson opened up a cut over his eye.
"I didn't even know I'd done it until they went and got their drinks in the corner," said Tennyson.
"He let out quite a loud scream. It was obviously panic, he thought the fight was over. I panicked myself. It would have been bad, the guy's been in training camp 17 odd weeks. He's been away from his family. It would all have been for nothing but thankfully they got the eye sorted and he got the job done."
Tennyson says that training alongside Frampton gave him a good insight into what it takes to be at the very top.
"Carl is a massive inspiration. What he has done has been awesome and now he's right back up there again on the way to another world title fight. He's such a down to earth guy for someone who has achieved to much.
"When I was in camp with him I learned a lot from him. He works so hard, it showed me why he's at the level he is at and that's where I want to be. I want to have the chance to fight for a world title and winning the European title can open the way."
Tennyson is relishing being part of the Haye-Bellew Sky Box Office show and, while Ward will be seen as the favourite in he eyes of many, the heavy-handed Belfast man believes the chance has come at just the right time.
"I feel that I have grown as a fighter. Within the last year I have won the Irish title and a WBA international title and won three 50-50 fights by stoppage. With every fight I have been improving, I'm always learning. I have been working hard on my defence and my coach Tony Dunlop has been complimenting me on that," added Tennyson.
"Now I'm going on to the biggest stage of my career and I can't wait. I know I'm facing a very good boxer. Ward is quick and sharp, he's good on his feet and it won't be easy but we have our game plan and I'm ready for 12 hard rounds.