James Tennyson blasted his way to the verge of a shot at Teofimo Lopez or Gervonta Davis as he stopped Josh O’Reilly in less than a round in their WBA lightweight title eliminator on the Sunders-Murray bill at the SSE Arena, Wembley.
The 27-year-old Northern Irishman came up short in a shot at Tevin farmer’s IBF title at super-featherweight in 2018, but he has looked like a wrecking machine in six fights since switching up to lightweight.
“I was expecting a tough night with Josh moving around,” Tennyson, 27, said. “But I just clipped him with a left hook and it seemed to hurt him, so I went in and put it on him. It paid off.
“I can box as well, but when you put it on someone and catch them, you may as well follow it up. In an eliminator you take your chances.
“From moving up, that is six straight knockouts at lightweight. Doing the weight is absolutely amazing, I’m comfortable and feeling a heck of a lot stronger and sharper. The move up has benefited me massively.
“After tonight’s win, I’m knocking on the door [or a world title shot]. I am very close to being ready to go.”
He walked straight through O’Reilly. The Canadian went into the fight with a 16-fight unbeaten record but he could just not get out of the way as Tennyson came at him throwing bombs.
It took him less than a minute to find his mark, as he landed six or seventh hard punches before O’Reilly went tumbling to the floor. H looked hurt as he got up, but was waved back in and Tennyson loaded up on everything he threw. A right hand sent him stumbling across the ring before a left hook dropped him heavily again.
Referee Marcus McDonnell allowed O’Reilly to continue but promptly stepped in after Tennyson landed two more heavy right hands at 2:14 of the first round.
“He needs another fight at a higher level than Josh O’Reilly before he starts talking about Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis,” Eddie Hearn said. “But there is plenty of fights we love. Roly Romero is No 1 at lightweight, I believe [Tennyson] will go in at No 2 in the next rankings. I love Jorge Linares. Jorge Linares at the Odyssey [in Belfast] when the crowds come back next year.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.