Unbeaten prospect Stephen McKenna (7-0, 7 KOs) explains that he traveled to Los Angeles in 2018 and had a lot of sparring success against Ryan Garcia.
McKenna, who is trained by Hall of Fame coach Freddie Roach, had not turned pro until the following year.
Since going pro, the 23-year-old McKenna has displayed some heavy hands to stop all of his opponents inside the distance.
He feels confident in his chances against Garcia – if and when the time comes.
“He never really worked the body shots that much,” McKenna told Sky Sports. “He was always just trying that left hook and running on into the ropes, but he never did much body work or anything. At that time, I didn’t think he had any power. During our spar he was a lot of tap, tap, and he was moving a lot. He was going from corner to corner.
“He looks like he was punching hard now at the minute, so he has worked on his power and his strength. He looks like he has a good punch, and he fought a good fight. When I first sparred with Ryan, I was still an amateur. He’d had 18 fights.
“Over this past year now, I’m hitting harder and harder. I’m getting stronger every day in the gym. I’m working savagely hard and I’ll be ready for Ryan Garcia whenever the time comes. I’d fight him tomorrow, if I had the chance.”
This past Saturday night at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Garcia was decked hard in the second round by 2012 Olympic gold medal winner Luke Campbell.
Garcia recovered, and then knocked Campbell out with a vicious body shot in the seventh round.
“I don’t think Luke realised how hurt he really was,” said McKenna. “There was over a minute left on the clock.
“If he had been an aggressive-style fighter, another fighter would have got him out of there, like Gervonta Davis or Teofimo Lopez. Luke is more of a stand-off fighter, it’s not in his nature to be aggressive and come forward. Garcia was badly hurt. If I had been in there, I would have got Garcia out of there, if I had him hurt like that.”
McKenna was able to get in three fights in 2020 – which he appreciates considering the COVID-19 pandemic. He aims to have at least six ring outings in 2021.