'I just love fighting': Aaron McKenna interview
Luke Byron speaks to Ireland's rising teenage star Aaron McKenna about signing for Golden Boy, living in America and his ambition to win a world title by the age of 21...
At just 19 years old, Golden Boy’s Irish welterweight sensation Aaron ‘The Silencer’ McKenna has already amassed a 5-0 record with 3KOs, signed a deal with Adidas and been compared to the likes of Micky Ward.
Having followed his two brothers to the gym at a young age, McKenna believes boxing is ‘in his blood’ – his father having competed within the sport too.
"The minute I started, I loved it," he told Boxing Monthly. "Ever since I started I’ve always wanted to be a pro boxer and become world champion."
Steering away from other temptations such as Gaelic football, McKenna began competing on the amateur circuit at the age of 11 and went on to claim eight Irish titles, European Schoolboys Gold, a European Junior Silver and a Gold at the Nikolay Pavlyukov Memorial in Russia.
Many saw the Irishman as a medal hope for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo but he opted to turn professional and steer clear of the unpaid ranks.
"I always wanted to turn pro early and I’ll have a head start having done so early," he explained. "I didn’t want to wait for the Olympics as you can get a cut and be forced to wait again, my style is more suited to the pros and the more rounds I have, the better I get. Twelve rounds suit me far better than three rounds."
Oscar De La Hoya is excited by the talents of the Irishman and for the young prospect, there are few better people that he could have been promoted by.
"To be signed with Golden Boy is unbelievable, growing up I watched Oscar on YouTube and he was one of my favourites, so to be signed with him is amazing and I know they’ll move me in the right direction."
McKenna is now living in America permanently and appears to have settled in wonderfully. "I’m here with my brother and my father, it’s good to be here together and we love it."
You only need to glance at his Instagram account to see McKenna mixing it with the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko and Sergey Kovalev.
"The best thing about being over here is the sparring. Just this year I’ve sparred Fabian Maidana (younger brother of Marcos), Amir Khan, Sergey Lipinets. It doesn’t get better than that."
Five fights into his career, McKenna says he’s satisfied with how he’s progressing. "I’m very happy, just gonna take each one as it comes, keep getting better and improve every fight – that’s the objective."
McKenna fights again on Thursday 8 November in California against 4-1 Abel Reyes in what he says will be another step up. "I’m more than ready for any fight, this is the sharpest I’ve ever been, I’ve done 12 weeks and over 150 rounds of sparring so I’m more than ready."
The bout will be McKenna’s first as an Adidas athlete and the sponsorship deal is something that he’s extremely proud of.
"Growing up I always wore Adidas, they’re the best brand so to have them on my team is a great help for my career," he said.
Not one to set his goals small, McKenna says he aims to become a world champion before the age of 21, but until then he’s happy to just keep moving forward.
"I just love fighting, I love getting in the ring and hitting people in the face, it’s a fun thing and a nice feeling when you get to knock somebody out."