Dennis McCann can be as elusive outside of the ring as he is inside it. Surprisingly, getting the talkative British junior featherweight champion on the phone can be a difficult task, but it is usually one worth persevering through.

“I’m a difficult man to get a hold of – I’ve always been the same,” McCann said with a laugh when recently speaking to BoxingScene.

McCann is still only 23 years old, but he has already been a professional for more than five years. Still, the daily grind of fighting for a living hasn’t begun to wear on him just yet.

“Oh, I love it more now. I live and breathe it,” McCann said. “I watch boxing all day, every day. I love fighting. Seeing blood and bleeding myself, I just love it. I like dogging it out. I try to come out windmilling, but that’s why I’ve got a team to stop me. I just love dogfights.”

McCann has developed into a solid junior featherweight. He has grown into his wiry frame and appears every inch of his listed 5 feet and 7 inches. He cuts a different figure from the 18-year-old who looked like he should be back in school the Monday after he made his debut.

McCann has matured inside and outside of the ring.

He left Alan Smith’s iBox gym and moved north to Liverpool, where he trains with Joe McNally. In March, McCann comfortably beat the previously undefeated Brad Strand to become the British champion and, last August, survived the first real scare of his career when he and Romanian hard man Ionut Baluta went to war in a sweltering York Hall. The exhausting fight went to the scorecards after McCann suffered a terrible cut on his forehead, and he escaped with a technical draw. 

On July 27, the pair will meet again. This time around, the prestigious European title will be on the line, and McCann is confident that he will show just how much he has grown and improved since.

“I’ve filled out a lot more now. It was about a year ago, and I’m a man now. I’m 23 years of age. I’m ready to take his chin off,” he said, laughing. “I’m a strong super bantamweight now. I was sparring a light welterweight this morning and bashed him up in the gym. I borrowed somebody’s headguard and gloves, had no gumshield and said, ‘F*** it, chuck me in.’

“I’ve been looking forward to this one. I tried to make the fight happen straight away, but that’s why you have a good management team around you. I got a nice little win last time and I’ve got a new coach. I’m in a new gym and I’ve got that new team around me. The only way is up now.

“It’s a solid gym. It’s buzzing and we’re all thriving off each other. Josh Taylor’s in there, and I probably did 40 or 50 rounds with him for his fight [with Jack Catterall]. He’s caught me with a few big ones, I’m not gonna lie. We’ve had some good old spars.

“You can’t buy that experience. I’m very, very grateful.”

Slowly but surely, the cream has risen to the top of the British junior featherweight division. Eighteen months ago, a whole host of fighters were vying to be the breakout star at 118 pounds, but time and competition have thinned out the field.

Hopey Price has moved permanently to featherweight, whilst Andrew Cain has dropped to bantamweight. Marc Leach has been beaten by Liam Davies and Peter McGrail, whilst McCann ended Brad Strand’s unbeaten run.

IBO champion Davies has emerged as not only the clear leader at junior featherweight but also as one of Britain’s best fighters across all weight divisions. He boxes the talented Shabaz Masoud on July 20.

McCann understands boxing and is honest enough to admit that, for the time being, he, Masoud and McGrail are playing catch-up.

“Listen, Liam Davies is the top of the bunch at the moment. He’s proved it. Let’s get that right,” he said. “My time is coming. I’m getting the experience behind me and I’ve got a good team. That’s what I’ve needed all this time. I definitely think that over the next 12 to 15 months I’ll prove I’m the best one.

“[Davies] has surprised me, I have to be honest. I think he’ll do a job on Shabaz Masoud. I don’t know if I’m sold on him. He’s doing well and had some great wins, but I think Davies will maybe stop him.”

McCann may think he is a year or so away from proving himself the best 122-pounder in Britain, but he also thinks we won’t see him at his peak for a little while longer. 

“I reckon in 18 months or so,” he said. “I think I can be a world champion, it’s all down to me. If I keep my eyes on the job, in and out of the gym. That’s a big thing, because as a young boy you have to keep your eyes on the prize. I do think I’m the most skillful, strongest super bantamweight.”

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