Tennyson eyes world title shot after gritty victory
James Tennyson is hoping he can land a world title shot on the back of his European and Commonwealth super-featherweight title success on Saturday night at the O2 Arena.
The 24-year-old Belfast man climbed off the floor following a sickening blow to the body in the second round only to drop defending champion Martin Ward in the fifth before a further barrage left the Englishman sprawling across the ropes and onto the canvas, leading referee Victor Loughlin to call a halt.
Ranked two in the World Boxing Association rankings and expected to move into the top 15 of the IBF, a rating held by Ward prior to Saturday night's fight, Tennyson has placed his career in a great position.
"I feel on top of the world now, I feel great. The body shot he caught me with was a beauty, a real sore one but I dug deep and got the win," said Tennyson.
"Whatever my manager Mark Dunlop and promoter Eddie Hearn want to happen next I'm up for it but hopefully I will get a world title shot."
Ward had hoped that his own world title aspirations would be sealed with a victory over number two-ranked Tennyson - who also holds the WBA international super-featherweight title - and in the early stages, he was peppering the Belfast man with sharp jabs and right hands.
Tennyson was being outboxed and then came that moment when his supporters felt there may be no way back as the Belfast turned away and fell to the canvas from a rasping blow to the ribs.
But, in the third round, Tennyson demonstrated his grit as he came out and went straight at Ward, looking to land his heavy blows.
Meeting fire with fire, Tennyson showed Ward that he was ready for the long haul if that's what it took to take away his belts.
It was clear that Tennyson was the heavier puncher and near the end of the third Ward realised it as well as his head was jolted back from a left hook.
He was made to take further blows of a similar quality in the fourth as Tennyson cut off the ring and let the punches flow.
Ward tried to old off the Belfast man who was growing in confidence as he started to bully his opponent right up to the end of the fourth round.
Then came the fateful fifth as Tennyson continued his relentless assault on Ward was suffocated by the Belfast man's attacks.
Ward simply wilted under the storm, crashing to the canvas and Tennyson let out a yellow of joy before celebrating with coach Tony Dunlop and manager Mark.
It was one of the finest away wins in recent years by any Irish fighter as Tennyson had been seen by most as a real underdog.
Now, he can look ahead to a possible dream world title shot - and possibly at some point an all-Belfast clash with Anthony Cacace, who lost on points to Ward last summer.