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Saunders vs Murray: James Tennyson looking to mix it with top lightweights

A WBA lightweight eliminator comes Friday for Tennyson and Josh O’Reilly.

Callum Smith and John Ryder Public Workout - JD Gyms Liverpool Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images

James Tennyson is set to return to the ring on Friday (Dec. 4, DAZN, 2 pm ET) as part of Matchroom’s Saunders-Murray card from London, and he’s got a fight that is bigger than it might seem on paper, facing Josh O’Reilly in a WBA lightweight eliminator.

“This is a big step forward, a world title eliminator. It can open some doors and opportunities for me,” Tennyson said ahead of the bout. “I know I can mix it with those guys. I want the opportunities with the big names.”

The WBA lightweight title is currently one of three held by Teofimo Lopez, but Lopez holds the “super world” version, while the secondary “world” version is held by Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who may or may not be fighting at 135, as he also holds the WBA’s “super world” title at 130. All of this means that, sure, the Tennyson-O’Reilly winner could face Lopez or Davis — two legit top fighters and stars — or could wind up fighting for a vacant belt, maybe against interim titlist Rolando Romero, who could also be bumped to “world” status if Davis vacates.

It’s all very stupid, as it is boxing and the WBA, but the opportunity, in whatever form, for the winner of this fight is very real, and very important.

How to Watch Saunders vs Murray

Date: Friday, Dec. 4 | Start Time: 1:00 pm ET
Location: SSE Arena, Wembley - London, England
Stream: DAZN | TV: Sky Sports (UK)
Online Coverage:

Tennyson admits he hasn’t seen much of the unbeaten O’Reilly (16-0, 6 KO), but figures the 29-year-old Canadian can’t be taken lightly, and says “it’s just about winning.”

“(O’Reilly) is very confident and clearly he’s here to win. It’s his big opportunity, it’s not one I can take lightly with the rewards at the end of it,” Tennyson said. “I’m very highly motivated. I haven’t stopped thinking about a world title. Fighting at that level is where I want to be. I’m working very hard to get myself into that position again.

“It’s a stage of boxing I’ve wanted to get back at. I want to bring big fights back to Belfast. It’s a dream. It’s one I’m getting closer to.”

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