Tyrone McKenna says he is going to make sure fans have a night to remember on August 6 at Falls Park.
McKenna is preparing to take on Zhankosh Turarov on the supporting bill to Michael Conlan’s big clash with former world super-bantamweight champion TJ Doheny — the Kazakhstan fighter who was forced to withdraw from their bout in April due to coronavirus at just 24 hours notice.
The Belfast man was naturally gutted and expected to go down a different route to a world ranking but when a few opponents turned down the chance to face McKenna, an offer was made to unbeaten Turarov who accepted the chance to win the WBO intercontinental light-welterweight title and a slot in the governing body’s top 10 rankings.
McKenna is relishing the chance to return to the ring — and particularly with around 8,000 supporters packed into the purpose-built venue just a five-minute drive from his home.
“The fans can expect a good old fashioned war. It shows you how starved the boxing fans have been that the show has virtually sold out and they deserve a real treat,” said McKenna.
“I was surprised that Turarov agreed to come to Belfast but he must be confident so you know it has to be an entertaining fight.
“He’s coming into an atmosphere that he has never faced before and the pace I’m going to set will shock him.
“Everything about me is everything that he hates in a fighter. The intensity I will bring from the start is not what he likes so we’ll see how he handles that. It’s a massive fight and a massive opportunity for me to go into the world’s top 10.”
McKenna insists the passion of the Belfast fans cannot be underestimated. While fighters will often state they have no impact once the bell rings, McKenna’s experience of boxing during the pandemic behind closed doors having regularly enjoyed great support has changed his mind.
“I’ve been in fights when I’ve been hurt or dazed and then heard the crowd which has driven me on to bite down on the gumshield and come back swinging,” added McKenna. “I didn’t think I’d miss them but in my fight with Ohara Davies I did. The night I fought Jack Catterall in the SSE Arena the fans were great for me — they inspired me that night.
“It’s going to be an incredible atmosphere at the Festival. I’ve always gone there and it has been getting bigger and bigger every year.
“I was there two years ago when Mick (Conlan) topped the bill and I was sitting there thinking I’d love to be part of it.
“When I was young I would go up there and mess around with Anto Cacace, so to be fighting there is going to be very special.
“It’s not just a night of boxing, it has the feel of a big event and will go down as one of the highlights of my career.”