Boxing

‘I’ve gone halfway around the world to come home empty-handed’

McKenna’s bout with Zhankosh Turarov was cancelled after the Kazakh fighter tested positive for Covid-19

“You’ve spent 11 weeks training, being away from home and spending a fortune on your camp just to be told you’re not having a fight at the end of it, you’re not going home with a belt. It’s very deflating.”

Carl Frampton is not the only Northern Irish boxer to have left Dubai in disappointment in the last few days.

Tyrone McKenna had been gearing up to fight in the co-main event of Frampton and Jamel Herring’s WBO super-featherweight title bout in Dubai.

He was scheduled to face Zhankosh Turarov for the WBO inter-continental super-lightweight belt, but the Kazakh fighter was forced to pull out on the morning of the fight after testing positive for Covid-19.

“I was gutted,” said McKenna. “See the nerves you get before a fight and you’re thinking, ‘why am I doing this? I hate this’ – but then to get told that you aren’t fighting, you are fuming.

“You’ve gone halfway around the world only to come home empty-handed with not even a fight or a reason for losing.”

‘No insurances for boxers’

The west Belfast southpaw is also out “five or six grand” as there are “no insurances for boxers”, who do not get paid if their fights are cancelled.

“I was wondering why I hadn’t seen Turarov about the hotel,” added McKenna.

“At the weigh-in, he wasn’t there and even during that night, the company was putting up stuff about everyone fighting but had nothing about me and I was co-main event.

“Obviously we go into a boxing bubble when we get to Dubai and get tested straight away. His first test came back as inconclusive, so we didn’t know if he had it or not. He had to stay in his room from then.

McKenna was defeated by Ohara Davies in September
McKenna was defeated by Ohara Davies in September

“Then he got tested again. No one told me anything at first because obviously no one wanted to worry me. My coach (Pete Taylor) knew about it. He didn’t want to tell me, he didn’t want to panic me.”

On Saturday morning when Turarov’s Covid result came back as positive, McKenna’s coaching team told him the news and although he was initially devastated, he is determined for the fight to be rescheduled soon.

“We still want the fight to go ahead,” said the 31-year-old.

“Obviously he has to get better and then he has Ramadan (which lasts for 30 days) but I definitely want to fight him. I want to fight for that belt.

“It depends when he’s thinking of fighting. If he’s thinking August, I want to fight before then.

“There’s still big names in the UK that I could fight – the likes of Lewis Ritson, so I’ll try to get a fight sorted with some of them.”

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