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Monaghan teenager McKenna to fight live-dog opponent in California on Thursday

‘The Silencer’ returns to Fantasy Springs on Thursday night for his third professional bout.

Aaron McKenna (L) alongside Vitali Klitschko and his brother, Stevie McKenna (R)
Aaron McKenna (L) alongside Vitali Klitschko and his brother, Stevie McKenna (R)
Image: Rachel Charles (@pitchink)

BY FRIDAY MORNING, 18-year-old Aaron McKenna will share a common opponent with a 2016 US Olympian.

Monaghan’s ‘Silencer’ will square off with Keasen Freeman [4-1, 2KOs] on his return to Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California this Thursday night. It will be his second bout in just under three weeks.

The Golden Boy-promoted welterweight faces a decent step-up foe in Freeman, two years his senior, whose sole defeat was inflicted by hot American prospect Gary Antuanne Russell [4-0, 4KOs] inside two rounds last month.

Russell, brother of WBC World featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr, was controversially eliminated from the Rio Olympics at the quarter-final stage, and like McKenna has been tipped for stardom in the pro game.

McKenna [2-0, 1KO] enters Thursday night’s scrap on the back of his first stoppage as a professional, and it was timely; the eight-time Irish champion laid waste to Jose Palacios last time out in a bout which was broadcast live – coast-to-coast – on ESPN 2 and ESPN Deportes.

The young Irish star’s latest bout is on the undercard of former WBC featherweight world champion Francisco Vargas’ Golden Boy on ESPN ring return against Rod Salka.

Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions intend for McKenna to fight at least eight times this year.

The six-foot-one Smithborough gunslinger aims to become a world champion within his first three years in the punch-for-pay ranks, but likely won’t be rushed by his team: for one thing, he isn’t yet fully grown; McKenna, now operating at 147 pounds, was fighting at 114 just over two years ago.

‘The Silencer’ dreams of one day fighting for world honours at St Tiernach’s Park in Clones – the home of Monaghan GAA – but will likely first be unleashed on America’s Irish-influenced east coast in due course, where his stablemate Jason Quigley recently returned to action in explosive fashion after a year-long injury absence.

‘On Sunday nights, kids are feeling immense anxiety about school – like I did. I’ll do it for them’

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