Bill Tibbs interviews Ireland’s Steve McKenna.
McKenna makes his professional debut April 6
Most people head out to California dreaming of the sun, sand and surf. But for Monahan, Ireland’s Stevie McKenna, beach life is on hold for the time being. He is there for one reason - in the pursuit of boxing’s great glory – a world title.
Like younger brother, welterweight Aaron (currently 7-0 as a pro) did previously, he has come out to California to turn professional and one day fulfill his dream of fighting for a world title.
It is early days yet but the likeable, well-spoken 22-year old is set to take the crucial first step on April 6th at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena, in Pico Rivera, California where he will make his pro debut.
McKenna is coming into the paid ranks with a strong amateur foundation that should serve him well. He had a161 wins in 170 amateur fights, winning numerous national and inter-national titles while competing all over Europe.
However, when brother Aaron came out to California and signed with both Los Angeles’ Sheer Sports Management and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, Stevie made some trips out to visit, get some work in and take a look around. He soon realized that he felt it was indeed the right time to turn pro and started looking at relocating to California to join his father Fergal and start training under coach, and former heavyweight contender, Courage Tshabalala.
After some time out in Los Angeles, getting in some training and sparring, Stevie has his first fight booked and is now set to get going on his professional career. And, if Stevie can generate the same buzz among fans that has followed brother Aaron, boxing might have an all-action, sizzling set of siblings to watch.
This is a brother act that might quickly become must-see-TV for all-action fight fans!
Maxboxing had a chance to catch up with Stevie to chat about his upcoming debut and life away from home and training in one of the boxing capitals of the world.
BT: Hi Stevie, thanks for taking a minute to chat.
SM: No problem Bill; anytime.
BT: So you are set to turn pro, what weight will you be fighting at?
SM: I walk around at about 147 pounds, I fight at 140, and I never get too far off my fighting weight.
BT: You are tall for your weight, over 6 feet.
SM: Yes, I am. But I make the weight no problem.
BT: How would you describe your style as fighter?
SM: I think my style is more suited to the pros. I watched Aaron turn pro and it got me excited to get in there as well because I know ultimately that I have style that is fan-friendly and is better suited to the pro game. You can wait around for the Olympics for years and get injured or get a bad decision and it is all over in a minute. So I decided that this was a good time to go to the pros. I have an aggressive style, but I can box off the back foot. But, I am aggressive and I think that will go down well in the pro game.
BT: How do you feel heading into your first fight? You’ve been training out in California for a while. It must be nice to finally get going.
SM: I’m really excited to get in there as a pro and test myself. I hope to get in as many bouts as possible this year but I would like to fight 6 times if possible.
BT: What do you think is one of your strengths that you’ll bring to the pros?
SM: I think my conditioning is really a great feature of my boxing. I get better as the fight goes on. I think the longer bouts will suit me. I fight as hard in the last round as I do in the first; I get stronger as the fight goes on.
BT: California is great, but you and your brother must long for home and a chance to fight back in Ireland; the Irish love their boxing.
SM: Oh yeah, of course we miss home and we’d love to fight there one day. But, California is where you have to come to really get in the work that can see if you have what it takes to get to a world title. The gyms, the sparring, it is just fantastic. Every gym you go into there is a world champion or a guy who fought for a world title. You just get the best training and sparring there is out here.
BT: Do you and Aaron ever think about going home to fight on the same bill as champions? That would be a dream come true.
SM: (laughs) Oh yeah Bill, that is our dream to go home and fill St. Tiernach’s Park Stadium; fight there and defend our world titles or fight for world titles there. That would really be a dream come true.
BT: Well step 1 is on the April 6th.
SM: Absolutely, and I can’t wait to get in there as a pro.
BT: Thanks for the chat Stevie and best of luck on the 6th.
SM: No problem Bill and thank you