Ryan Garcia has already traded punches with Stephen McKenna who says he can topple the US star

Stephen McKenna says he troubled Ryan Garcia in sparring, even before he had turned professional, and the Irish contender is confident he can topple the US star.

Garcia was floored for the first time of his career by Luke Campbell at the weekend, but the talented 22-year-old then climbed off the canvas and stopped his British opponent with a body shot in the seventh round.

McKenna sparred with Garcia on a trip to Los Angeles in 2018, over a year before his pro debut, and he insists the Californian did not show many signs of his spiteful punching.


“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.”

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The unbeaten 23-year-old also trained alongside Campbell last year, an opportunity to study the Olympic gold medallist’s ring skills, and McKenna believes Garcia was fortunate to avoid a stoppage loss.

“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.”

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McKenna extended his unbeaten record to seven victories, all by knockout, with back-to-back bouts in December and he hopes to push for a title fight next year.

“Two knockouts to keep the knockout streak going. I’m very pleased with the way my two fights went and I’m happy to finish off the year on a high,” he said.

“Keep pushing forward, hopefully get six fights maybe, and by the end of the year, I want to be in the top 15 of the world rankings.

“I’ll be ready for anyone or anything.”

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