Stevie McKenna – One to watch

Stevie McKenna
Stevie McKenna can't risk waiting for an Olympics that may never come. He speaks to John Dennen about turning pro

Are you turning professional?

I’m turning professional. I signed a management deal with Sheer Sports. I’ll be making my debut in February. I think it’ll be in LA, I’m not too sure yet.

What were your highlights as an amateur?

I won an Irish Elite title in 2016 and I won the Youth Commonwealth Games gold and a European Youth silver medal. I’ve a good bit of amateur experience, over 155 bouts and I’ve fought for Ireland over 40, 50 times.

Why did you decide to turn professional?

I think it was the right time to pro for me anyway. The Olympics is in 2020. So I’m 21 and I think it’s the perfect time to turn pro. My brother [Aaron McKenna], he’s turned pro and he’s only 19. I’m seeing how well he’s doing so I think this is the perfect time to make the move. He’s been doing brilliant. He’s 6-0 now.

With Olympic boxing being in a mess, no one knows what the qualification route is going to be, no one knows what’s going to happen to Olympic boxing itself, did that help make your decision?

That’s it. You could be training for all them years and even a bad decision or a cut or anything can happen. It’s a big risk, I think, waiting and then the Olympics might not even be on. You don’t know.

Do you think already there’s a drain of talent of boxers who would normally wait for the Olympics?

A lot of guys seem to be turning pro now. A lot of ones that would have waited. A lot of people are trying to make the move. They’ve seen what’s happened to other boxers in the Olympics. Like Michael Conlan, what happened to him that time. They don’t want to take the risk, they just want to turn pro.

Was boxing a big part of your family?

There’s three of us, I have an older brother as well. He was an Irish champion as well. We’re all Irish champions growing up and we were all on the Irish team. We’ve been boxing all our lives. My dad, he trains us. He’s been coaching us all these years. Boxing has been a part of our whole lives.

Stevie McKenna has been sparring Vasyl Lomachenko, read what he has to say about the brilliant Ukrainian in the latest edition of Boxing News magazine

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