Aaron McKenna set to make pro debut on Saturday
“He’s the youngest, Irish everything.”
Aaron McKenna makes his professional debut this Saturday night and, at a media workout held at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, early last week, his publicist Rachel Charles, of Sheer Sports Management, quickly described her newest client before introducing him to UCNLive.com.
Nicknamed “Silencer,” McKenna probably wouldn’t have talked to anyone hadn’t Rachel introduced the shy kid to seemingly everyone that day. Of course, that’s not what the moniker refers to but, during his first big media workout – one that also had Miguel Cotto in the room – McKenna made more noise on the pads with his trainer but what else could you expect from the 18-year-old?
“Boxing is the only thing I know,” McKenna affirmed. “I love boxing. My goal is to be a world champion and make a living out of boxing.”
McKenna’s obsession started once his father Fergal introduced him to the sport. In a conversation with UCNLive.com, Fergal, who was a boxer himself starting at 11 years old and later pursued a career in the martial arts as an adult, agreed that the third one was indeed the charm when it came to the boxing talent of his three sons. The disciplines of boxing are what Mr. McKenna wanted instilled in his sons but, in Aaron’s case, Fergal described it as a “healthy obsession” with boxing.
“I started boxing when I was six. My father used to box on his own and my two older brothers started boxing, then I joined. Ever since, I loved it, obsessed with it,” Aaron remarked about his start. “I’m a very experienced amateur. Going into my first fight, I’m just gonna take it like every other fight – not get too carried away – let the boxing do the work.”
Born in Monaghan, Ireland and fighting out of Santa Monica, California’s Iron Gym, McKenna will face Victor Gaytan, 2-3 (1), in his first impression and, like most heralded prospects in their debuts, he will open a big card at the Madison Square Garden, in New York City, where Cotto will fight for the final time. McKenna has fought in the U.S. before, as an amateur, when he was 11, at the Ringside World Championships in Kansas City, Missouri. “It was a good experience,” he said but recalled that he thought he should’ve won his 3-2 majority decision loss to Devin Haney in the semifinals. As for an Olympic bid, McKenna was tabbed to be someone who could bring Ireland a medal.
“Yeah, I was actually picked – the only boxer from the youth age to be picked for Tokyo (Home of the 2020 Summer Games),” McKenna said. “There were big plans for me but I believe, in three years time, I’d be a solid pro and have a lot more experience.”
McKenna will be competing in the welterweight class and is being trained by Courage Tshabalala, a South African heavyweight standout from 1993-2005.
“Training has been going great with Courage. I’m learning new things everyday. He has a lot of experience and over 20 fights. He’s trained with the greats too,” McKenna said. When it comes to his progression, the teenager already knows what he needs to work on: “Trying to settle myself down. Longer rounds now.”
Despite having a boyish look, McKenna has ample size and length for the 147-pound class and it’s a body still developing into its full potential. Maybe he wanted to impress in his first formal appearance as a professional but the shots banging on Coach Courage’s mitts weren’t exactly silent. One thing is for sure; however far it goes from here, Aaron McKenna will do it quietly.