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'Some experience to get at 19!': McKenna sparred Amir Khan less than a week after his 5th pro win

Five days after Aaron McKenna’s abrasive fifth pro win, he hopped in the ring for a go-around with Amir Khan.

FOLLOWING HIS FIFTH win as a professional at Hollywood’s Avalon Theater last Saturday, Aaron McKenna did what he does after every fight.

The 19-year-old doesn’t touch the drink and tends to eat healthily post-fight, so his wind-down routine is significantly less lavish than most: McKenna tends merely to chill out for a couple of days before returning to the gym — typically as soon as the following Monday.

He’s been on the go non-stop since turning professional last autumn but last week probably took the biscuit even if none were consumed. Five days removed from his Tinsel Town slugfest with Rolando Mendivil, ‘The Silencer’ took to the ring for some sparring with none other than former unified light-welterweight world champion Amir Khan.

Deep in camp for his upcoming fight with Samuel Vargas at Arena Birmingham on 8 September, the 31-year-old Briton was approached by McKenna and his team for a go-around at the Ten Goose Gym in LA’s San Fernando Valley region.

‘King Khan’ was more than happy to oblige the heavy-handed Monaghan youngster, and it seems both fighters admired what the other brought to the session.


“We went to his gym, so we did, and we asked him to spar,” McKenna says. “I sparred him yesterday (Thursday).

He’s a really nice guy. He said he couldn’t believe how sharp I was and how hard it was to hit me. He was telling me I was a real big 147-pounder.

“I think he was very impressed with me.

“He likes the way that me and the brother, Steven, go to all of the gyms here and we’ll spar anyone. He was telling us that he was like that, too, when he was younger: he’d go around to all the gyms and he’d be afraid of no one.

The higher quality of opponents I get to spar, the more I’ll improve as well. And myself and Amir had a great spar. It was some experience to get at 19!

“He’s very fast and very smart,” adds the Golden Boy-promoted welterweight. “That was probably what stood out most: his ring IQ and his speed.

“I picked up loads of things from it, so I did. Hopefully, I’d say I could spar him again if all goes well.”

39442782_10214612633202067_2770325571744301056_n Aaron McKenna with Khan and brother Stevie (L)

39467896_10210880889452153_3314167954400083968_n (From left to right): Trainer Courage Tshabalala, Aaron McKenna, Amir Khan, Stevie McKenna and Fergal McKenna

McKenna could wind up sparring Khan again as soon as next week as the Bolton native nears the second fight of his comeback under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom banner. Ireland’s youngest professional fighter gave as good as he got in last Thursday’s session, and he did so imbued by his efforts on Golden Boy’s Facebook-broadcast card the previous Saturday.

Mexican Rolando Mendivil wasn’t gun-shy in the Avalon Theater ring, dishing out plenty if absorbing twice as much.

McKenna, who lost his mouthpiece in the third round of their entertaining curtan-raiser but fought on rather than give an inch, took plenty away from the second points victory of his burgeoning career.

“I got loads of experience from the fight. He was a good, durable opponent, with a good record to have, too, in your fifth fight — 10 wins, four losses. So it was a great fight for me to get at this stage of my career. I learned a lot from it.

“I suppose I kind of noticed the style I have now compared to my debut: my jab is a lot more effective, and I’m starting to feel a lot stronger too. I felt way stronger in that fight than I have in all my previous fights.

“I was surprised he was able to take the power!” the teenager continues. “I was landing a lot of real solid right hands and he was still standing. I hurt him a few times and he just didn’t go down.

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“But definitely, if there had been another two rounds, I think I would have stopped him. You could see at the end of the fourth round that he was in trouble and I was just getting stronger and stronger. So if it had been a six-rounder, I think I would have finished it.”

39000230_2077128188986943_451275447901093888_n (1) Aaron McKenna plants a right hand on Rolando Mendivil at Hollywood's Avalon Theater Source: Valentin Romero

‘The Silencer’, whose style recent acquaintance Micky Ward compared to that of Tommy ‘The Hitman’ Hearns upon perusal of some McKenna fight footage, is set for a high-profile September ring return once the finer details are ironed out by Golden Boy and his management team, Sheer Sports.

He’s keen to squeeze another one in before the year is out, too, and perhaps move beyond the four-round distance to cap off a fine year’s work in his new home.

“I’d like to have had seven fights by the end of the year,” he says. “It’d be good to get a six-rounder in, too.

“I think my style is better suited to six rounds or longer rounds, because I’ve noticed as my opponents get tired, I’m only getting stronger.”

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