‘The Mighty Celt’ overcame an early onslaught from WBO-ranked Catterall and came on strong in the latter stages of a brutal contest in Belfast – eventually losing out on a close but unanimous decision.
The home fighter’s defiance in the face of an impressive Catterall brought deafening roars from all four corners of a packed SSE Arena and with millions watching on BT Sport, the public reaction to McKenna’s first professional defeat has been purely positive.
McKenna (16-1-1-KO6) said: “Everyone is showing a lot of love. I’ve never had so many messages. Everyone is telling me I’m a warrior, that I proved my level and that they can’t wait to see me fight again.
“The feedback has been great and I’m really grateful for it all. The fact remains that getting beaten isn’t ideal and hopefully it’ll be the last time it ever happens.
“I’ll give Jack great credit – nobody has hit me as hard as he did in those first two rounds. After that, either I adjusted to it or he got a little weaker, but he’s very good and hard to hit clean in return. He has a weird stance.
“I’ve always known I was tough. In sparring I get battered early and then come on strong. I knew I’d start slowly against Jack and then come in to the fight in the latter stages.
“I have more courage than I thought. I took some heavy, heavy shots in there and laughed them off and came back. My corner was considering pulling me out at one stage but there was no way I was going to let that happen.
“I’m left with nine stitches and six staples but fights like that just make me want to fight every week.”