Stephen McKenna targets Conor Benn

Photo: Hennessy Sports/Lawrence Lustig – As a professional, world ranked welter Conor Benn can boast more fights (18) than Stevie McKenna has had rounds (15) so far, but that doesn’t dissuade the smoking Smithsborough, County Monaghan ‘Hitman’ from actively staking a shootout with the son of Hall of Fame legend Nigel Benn.

‘I want to get to Conor Benn before somebody else does,’ fired the super-confident 24-year-old ex- Irish amateur standout ahead of Benn’s fight tonight in Leeds.

’I’m sure it’s a fight the fans would love to see, probably next year. My style, my physicality, would prove far too much. I’m 6ft 1 (in), huge at 147 (lbs) where he’s very small for the weight. He might have 18 pro fights on his record but he’s not been fighting high calibre and, unlike me, Benn has nominal amateur pedigree.

‘He’ll never have come across anything as hard-hitting as me. He’s wild, easy to hit and he’ll be feeling it whenever I connect. His dad’s career was finished by a man from the south of Ireland (Steve Collins) so they’ll no doubt be coming for revenge. I’ll happily oblige.’

Since debuting at super-lightweight in April 2019, monstrous punching McKenna has flattened all eight victims long before the cards were called. Five faltered in the opening session and, with six succumbing to the full 10 count, the evidence suggests savage Stevie carries a real kayo kick rather than profiting from overly cautious matchmaking.

‘The power is very real,’ warns a man who has done copious sparring rounds with world grade talents such as Josh Taylor, Jose Ramirez, Vasyl Lomachenko and Ryan Garcia

‘It’s down to years of hard work plus my natural leverage. It’s a combination of precision, timing, speed and accuracy. Plus mindset. You obviously hope everyone goes home safely to their family but, it’s the hurt business and, whenever I step inside that ring, my aim is to throw every punch with bad intent. If I stun them, I look to take their head off.’

With 179 amateur contests on his CV, many in the international singlet, the former Commonwealth Youth champion and European Youth finalist is not unduly concerned by the lack of rounds on his pro ledger.

‘It’d be good to go some rounds but I’ll not be dragging fights unnecessarily,’ states McKenna, who made his pro debut in a bull fighting arena in Pico Rivera, California.

‘Every fight, I train as if I need to go the 10 or 12 round distance. There’ll always be one who could take my shots – though I doubt for 12 rounds – and you could always get cut and have a No Contest or a loss. If I clip my opponent, I’m not messing around. Eventually, I’ll get to all of them.’

The possibility of being placed into an involuntary siesta means that the queue to fight McKenna is exceedingly short.

He claims: ‘There’s already guys looking to avoid me but hopefully some will accept the challenge of trying to take me the distance, even beat me. I’ll likely have to force my way into a mandatory position to get the title shots.’

Despite the global pandemic, this most focussed of fighting men insists he’ll be perfectly primed for when he resumes his rampage against Frenchman Moussa Gary on his promoter Mick Hennessy’s Channel 5 screened blockbuster show at Coventry Skydome Arena on September 10th.

‘In truth, every camp is like lockdown anyway,’ says McKenna.

‘I’ve had a tremendous camp, working with my dad Fergal (his coach) and my younger brother, Aaron (an 11-0, super-welter), who provides great spars. We work on technique, bring each other on. I’ve also done some quality sparring with Robbie Davies Jr, a really top guy, at the McGuigan gym on the mainland.

‘I’m really happy to get back and hope Mick can keep the fights rolling. He and Channel Five have big, big plans for me. By the end of the year, I’d like to fighting 10 rounds for a World Youth title. That’s the plan.’

Supremely confident, Stevie warns the fraternity to tune in on time, concluding:

‘I’m there to entertain. You’ll not want to blink!’

Tickets are available to purchase now from only £40* from the Coventry Skydome Arena website https://iceaccount.co.uk/championship-boxing