Exclusive: Ambitious Irish prospect Aaron McKenna talks Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya, US move & career
Not many teenage boxing prospects have the support of a hall of fame legend like Oscar De La Hoya, but not many 18 year-old’s are as talented and confident as Aaron McKenna.
The young man from Smithborough, Ireland, is supremely confident, but not arrogant.
His interview with WBN had barely commenced before he stated his intent, fresh from a run up the Santa Monica stairs in LA. The same stairs the Klitschko Brothers frequented.
“I’m an exciting fighter and I come to fight and knock my opponents out,” McKenna told World Boxing News. “I want to be world champion within three years.”
He is aware at the tender age of 18 that his boxing journey has only just begun.
“Each fight is a stepping stone. I’m improving all the time my coach is great, teaching me the tricks of the trade and I’m getting better every day and without a doubt, I will become a world champion.”
McKenna fought as an amateur all over the world, racking up an impressive 161 wins with just 9 losses, so he is no stranger to travelling but even for him uprooting himself to LA was a big step, he knows the sacrifices he has to make to achieve his goals.
“This is the place to be if you want to be a world champion, you have all the top quality gyms and sparring here. You have gyms like Wildcard and Legends, sparring unbeaten fighters. You couldn’t get that back in Ireland.”
McKenna is signed to Oscar Del La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, where he can count Canelo Alvarez as a stablemate. He knows what having such prestigious backing could mean for his career.
“It’s absolutely brilliant to be signed to Golden Boy Promotions, they are the best promotional company in the world and I can’t wait to have a lot of fights with them.
“Oscar is very supportive of me, before my fight, he came into my dressing room and wished me luck. It’s great to have him behind he was one of the best boxers in the world and he gives me great advice.”
McKenna is known as ‘The Silencer’ which is very apt for a man who likes to do his talking in the squared circle.
“Outside the rin,g I’m very quiet and I do the talking inside the ring, and one of the boys called me it and it stuck.”
The typical route for young successful amateurs is to go to the Olympics and turn to the paid ranks after that, but McKenna knows what he wants to achieve and wants it now.
“Ever since I started boxing I wanted to become a world champion, the Olympics wouldn’t have came around for three or four years and who knows, you could get a cut in the qualifiers and miss out.
“The professional game suits me better as there are more rounds and I am very, very fit.”
McKenna stands at an imposing 6’1 tall and fights in the welterweight division currently, but at just 18 he knows his body is still developing.
“I’m feeling really strong at 147lb, my personal chef Mark helps me with that, he’s great.
“As I get older I will fill out and I will probably end up a light heavyweight in five years I will definitely get much stronger when I get older and when I hit 21 I will get the man strength.”
Ireland is a proud country which has produced some fantastic fighters over the years, but McKenna has no doubt he will write his name in history and go down in the pantheon of great Irish boxers.
“My idols were Barry McGuigan and Wayne McCullough and I’m trying to emulate them and become Ireland’s greatest ever boxer,” He concluded with authority.
That still remains an ambition rather than a certainty, not that he thinks that, mind. One thing is a certainty, though. His journey is only just beginning.
Thomas Davison is a staff writer for World Boxing News. Follow Thomas on Twitter @thomasdavison93