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Tyrone McKenna: Boxing skills don't get recognised so I'll have to go back to having a war in search of success

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Painful night: Tyrone McKenna suffered points defeat to Ohara Davies

Painful night: Tyrone McKenna suffered points defeat to Ohara Davies

Painful night: Tyrone McKenna suffered points defeat to Ohara Davies

The pain of defeat still stings more than the gash over his eye but Tyrone McKenna is determined to battle his way to the top - and still wants to be a hit in America.

McKenna missed out on the six-figure deal with US promotional company Top Rank he craved after losing narrowly to bitter rival Ohara Davies in the light-welterweight Final of the Golden Contract. But manager Jamie Conlan has suggested that big dates still lie ahead and the Belfast man insists he will grab every opportunity.

The 30-year-old had given the most disciplined performance of his career against Davies, having been criticised in the past for not using his natural attributes, but didn't get his reward.

"I keep thinking back to the fight and it does hurt because I had stuck to the game plan and thought the way I had out-boxed Ohara had won me the fight. But it just seems that boxing skill doesn't get recognised so I have to go back to having a war," said McKenna.

"Judges are meant to score ring generalship but that didn't seem to be the case because I controlled the majority of the fight. At the end of the fight and in between rounds I was hardly breathing, I felt I didn't need to take risks because I was so much in control and yet I didn't get the decision."

Despite the loss to Davies, the Belfast man has nevertheless done enough during the Golden Contract tournament to encourage promoters to give him opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic. Lewis Ritson, who fights for the vacant WBA inter-continental title this Saturday night, and former European champion Robbie Davies jnr are both seen as natural match-ups for McKenna.

"Jamie has talked about a fight in New York on the undercard of Mick Conlan's world title fight on St Patrick's Day next year and I would love that - and I think the Americans would love me because I will bring excitement in the ring and plenty of craic leading up to fights," added McKenna.

"I really believe that America would be a great stage for me and although I didn't win the contract I'm ready to take on whoever they want me to in the States. I want a fight there that would really catch the eye of the Americans.

"Jamie has made it clear that I won't be taking a step back, I'll not be going back to eight rounders because he believes that I have established myself at this level so fights with Robbie Davies and Lewis Ritson are a real possibility.

"The Golden Contract was going to be my short route to where I want to get to but now I just have to take a different, longer path but I know I'll get there.

"I also can't wait for the crowds to come back because I have to admit it did feel weird that such a big fight had no atmosphere - there was something lacking, it didn't have the feel of a big occasion even though so many in the boxing world were looking forward to the fight.

"It was so quiet I could hear every instruction from my coach and also what Jamie was shouting. Before the fight I thought the lack of a crowd would help me but now I know that my supporters behind me makes a difference - it gives you that extra buzz when you need it.

"So, I'll have a couple of weeks off and then go back to Dublin to start training with Pete (Taylor). I know I've got a lot more to give."

Sunday Life