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Tennyson can show his lightweight credentials with victory over Shafiq

Step up: James Tennyson has a shot at a lightweight title
Step up: James Tennyson has a shot at a lightweight title
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Belfast's James Tennyson has been handed a late opportunity to pick up his first title at lightweight when he boxes this Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.

Tennyson will face Rotherham's Atif Shafiq for the vacant WBA international crown as part of the supporting bill to Vasyl Lomachenko's WBA/WBC/WBO lightweight title showdown with fellow Olympic champion Luke Campbell.

The Belfast ace, trained by local man Tony Dunlop, won European and Commonwealth titles at super-featherweight and went on to fight for the IBF world belt. Having moved up a division, Tennyson enjoyed a couple of stoppage wins over moderate opposition in February and May.

The hard-hitting 26-year-old now has the chance to show that he is a contender at lightweight with a victory over Shafiq, who has a record of 21 wins and two defeats.

Fellow Belfast man Marco McCullough has been added to the supporting bill at the Ulster Hall on October 11, when Paddy Barnes headlines in a European flyweight title fight with Jay Harris.

McCullough will meet Romanian Viorel Simion, who has mixed it with former featherweight champions Lee Selby and Scott Quigg.

McCullough returns to the Ulster Hall following his impressive knockout win over Dubliner Declan Geraghty in May.

McCullough said: "Simion is a world-class fighter and I'm so excited now that's it's finally announced. Simion's only defeats are to world-class opponents, and he took both Scott Quigg and Lee Selby the distance. I see this fight to be my toughest so far, but I'm getting to the end of my career and I only want world-level opponents.

"The Ulster Hall is a great venue. It's small and compact so there will be a lot of noise. I'm buzzing for the fight.

"There's always fireworks in my fights. Simion comes to fight and he's very tough, so it should make a great fight."

Meanwhile, Lomachenko, top of the bill on Saturday night, is confident that he will put on a show for the fans at the O2 Arena.

Arguably pound for pound the best fighter on the planet, Lomachenko will start as a clear favourite against Campbell.

Lomachenko is hoping to create new memories in London, the city where he won his second Olympic gold medal in 2012.

"I can't wait and I am excited. I want to try and feel the moment and the emotion from the fans," he said.

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