By Kieran Breen
With the letters ‘BUA’ proudly worn across the waistband of the infamous green shorts; it is only too relevant to the man that wears them. The letters standing for ‘victory’ in his native Gaelic language, Tyrone McKenna is known for laying it all on the line to get the win; an attribute that only aids his growing popularity amongst boxing fans.
Under the watchful eye of trainer, Danny Vaughan, the rangy southpaw has an impressive record, with 17 wins from 19 outings. He also has just one loss and one draw to his name.
The only loss on McKenna’s resume came at the hands of the talented Jack Catterall back in June last year, with “El Gato” retaining his WBO Inter-Continental strap via a unanimous decision.
However, the Belfast man ended 2018 on a high, edging Lewis Benson, in what many have described as the domestic fight of the year.
McKenna explained: “I had a year of ups and downs in 2018.
“I had my first career defeat against world ranked Jack Catterall, but I really wouldn’t put that down as a total disappointment.
“I learned a lot from it and gained a lot of fans and respect for how that fight played out and I loved every second of it.”
The 28-year-old described 2018 as his favourite year in boxing to date, with wins over some domestic rivals standing out as highlights.
He told us: “I had two good wins (in 2018).
“I beat Anto Upton in April and then beat Lewis Benson to finish off the year.
“Now I’m sitting in the top 10 in the UK and I’m ready for massive fights in 2019.”
The mighty Celt finds himself part of the ever-growing Vaughan camp based in Glasgow, a team that includes names such as Paddy Barnes, Sam Maxwell and Sean McComb.
Danny Vaughan certainly puts the time in with each of his protégés and McKenna appreciates the relationship that he has with his coach.
He said: “Danny is like a father to me and I feel that’s very important in a coach to boxer relationship.
“You have to trust them 100%, they have to bring out the best in you and I believe that I have that with Danny.
“He’s improving me every camp and I believe that under his guidance, we can do big things this year.”
McKenna’s attempt to capture the WBO Inter-Continental title was his first genuine venture outside of the domestic scene and he admits that he now needs challenges at a higher level to maintain his motivation.
“I’ve always said I’m bored of domestic level – it doesn’t excite me one bit.
“I’m looking at names that will make me get out of bed at 5am to do the hills and really drive me to work hard.
“I want to push on to European and world honours but that’s not to say I have to travel outside the UK and Ireland for that because there’s a lot of big names in the UK that I would love to fight.”
The former BUI Celtic champion wasn’t shy when outlining his targets for the coming year as he looks to secure more titles.
A packed super-lightweight division means there are plenty of names to choose from, but McKenna has narrowed it down to just two names, for now at least.
“I would like to fight Joe Hughes now that he has the European title but I think everyone will be gunning for him now.
“Also, a fighter that I respect a lot and friendly with is Robbie Davies Jr and I would love a scrap with him.
“I think our styles would make for fight of the year material and he also has a few belts that I would like.
“He’s very entertaining and so am I so it would be a fans dream.