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Dublin: 11°C Friday 26 February 2021

Double trouble: Monaghan's McKenna bros earn stoppage victories against durable foes

Aaron became the first man in 79 to stop Jordan Grannum, while Stevie adjusted to halt another teak-tough veteran in MJ Hall.

Aaron (L) and Stevie McKenna (R).
Aaron (L) and Stevie McKenna (R).
Image: Valentin Romero

FIGHTING ON THE same professional card for the first time on Friday night, Monaghan brothers Stevie (23) and Aaron McKenna (21) earned stoppage victories in Redditch, Worcestershire on a Mick Hennessy-promoted bill which was televised on Channel 5.

These were merely stay-busy fights for the Smithborough siblings after a pandemic-hit career year in which they returned to Ireland from their adopted home in California, temporarily leaving Hall-of-Fame trainer Freddie Roach but continuing to work under father-slash-co-trainer Fergal in their backyard gym and at facilities around the country.

Older brother Stevie, known as ‘Hitman’, had previously dusted off the cobwebs with a first-round stoppage win live on Channel 5 in September, and this week signed his first professional deal with Mick Hennessy on whose bill he returned on the same channel tonight.

Aaron, the younger brother but more experienced fighter in the professional ring, is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy and was allowed to freelance on tonight’s Hennessy Sports show purely to get some rounds in the bank for 2020.

In the end, he didn’t even get two: ‘The Silencer’, typically a light-middleweight but fighting tonight up at middleweight, became the first man to halt career journeyman Jordan Grannum who had remarkably never been stopped in 72 previous career defeats.

McKenna was punch-perfect and produced a plethora of them, battering to Grannum to the body especially en route to an expected win, but an impressive TKO2. He dropped Grannum with a searing left hook behind the elbow towards the end of the second, with the naturally heavier survivor ultimately quitting on his stool before the third rather than seeking further punishment.

Grannum told McKenna post-fight that not only had he never been stopped, but he had never tasted the canvas in the entirety of his boxing career.

Stevie was out next and though his bout with another teak-tough journeyman, MJ Hall, was no more competitive, he endured some mild frustration before earning a fifth-round stoppage — one which the bloodied Hall, who had himself been stopped only four times in 61 previous fights, vehemently protested.

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A stoppage at that juncture was beginning to feel inevitable but only after ‘Hitman’ put the guns back in his holster to some extent: in the opening couple of rounds, he unloaded with single power shots which, despite their impact, afforded professional distance-man Hall the opportunity to shell up and ride out the storm.

But during the latter half of the fight, after some calm instruction from father Fergal in the corner, McKenna looked transformed as he changed from bazooka to boxer, working from behind his jab, peppering Hall with clever combinations and bamboozling him with fleet footwork.

By the fifth, his accuracy and Hall’s belligerent toughness combined to make something of an almost uncomfortable spectacle and, while Hall might well have seen out the round, there was a sense of inevitability about McKenna forcing an intervention of some sort before the final bell.

Stevie (now 7-0, 7KOs) will return to the ring on another Hennessy Sports show, live on Channel 5, next weekend.

Aaron (now 11-0, 7KOs) hopes to step up his title chase when the brothers and their father head back to California in the new year.

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