AFTER he suffered a stoppage defeat in October to Danny Roman, Gavin McDonnell is was once again plotting a route towards the pinnacle of the sport and claims that his ambition has only grown since the loss.
McDonnell knows that the big fights he craves won’t come straight away, but he is looking forward to getting back in the ring in the first quarter of 2019 after taking a rare, but deserved, break from the sport.
The two-time world title challenger from Doncaster always maintains weight and, after enjoying Christmas with his family, will be back in camp the day after as he targets one last push for glory.
He confirmed to Boxing News: “I’m hoping to be back out late February or early March. I’ve had a busy year with the fights with [Gamal] Yafai and [Stuey] Hall, before I got beat by Roman, so I needed a break with my family. I haven’t been punching for six or seven weeks, which has refreshed me, so it’s time to get back in there, as I’ve still got plenty of ambition.
“I didn’t know how I’d take getting stopped, but it made me realise how much I love boxing and what the sport means to me. I want a big year with a couple of big fights, as well as moving up in weight.
“I’ve never really had any time out, I’ve always been in the gym, even when I lost to Rey Vargas, I had two little tick-over fights, which I still did 10 week camps for, so that little break has worked for me. I always do my cardio, even when I’m not in camp because I enjoy doing it but now I’m back in the gym.
“I always train and diet through December, so I can enjoy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my family because I’ve been in the situation where you can’t eat on those days and it’s awful, as you have to sacrifice things as a fighter.”
McDonnell now looks back on his loss to Daniel Roman, who stopped him in 10 in Chicago, and refuses to place any blame for the defeat. He is known for coming on late in fights and taking the final rounds, something he was expecting to do before he was caught by Roman, the current WBA super-bantamweight champion.
He also adds that he would be an interested observer should Roman meet WBC champion, and the other man to defeat McDonnell, Rey Vargas, adding that a unification clash between the two would make sense in the near future.
“Roman is very good, he’s the first bloke to stop me. He fought at a good rhythm and he hit harder than his record suggests and he caught me with a good shot. I know if he hadn’t that I’d have run away with rounds 10, 11 and 12 as I’d started to really get going at that point and he was only up by two on the scorecards,” he said.
“So if I’d have pinched them, which I normally do, then I could have been the world champion right now. I’ll take the positives where I can and the way I look at it is that he caught me, hurt me and he’s made me more ambitious. I did everything that I possibly could and the better man beat me on the night, so now I know I belong up there, as I’ve only lost to the two best in the super-bantamweight division.
“I’d love to see Roman and Vargas fight. Rey is a better all around fighter, but Roman is much better than he looks. I’d have to favour him because he stopped me. Rey beat me on a split decision, but there was no way it was a split because he beat me hands down, but Roman stopped me, when I was a much better fighter [than before]. I’ve been hit by those sort of shots many times in fights but that time it really hurt me. I’m glad the referee stopped it when he did because my legs were gone. I think a fight between those two would make sense.”
Since his late entry into the sport in 2010, with minimal amateur experience, McDonnell has fought the majority of his career at super-bantamweight, winning British and European titles, as well as others during that time.
McDonnell, whose record stands at 20-2-2 with five stoppages, now appears to be campaigning up at featherweight, where he will likely be joined by his brother Jamie, who has held two versions of the world title at bantamweight.
McDonnell explained, “I’m 33 in March and I never had a problem making the weight. I’m going to move up though and I’m going to have to work because you can’t fight for a belt on a loss and Eddie won’t pull a big fight out for another six, seven months. So it makes sense to me and I’ll clarify with my team in the coming weeks. Eddie even mentioned it to me on fight night and I think it’s time to step up to nine stone.
“It’ll be good for both of us to move up in weight and featherweight is the right place for us to be. Unless Jamie can get a big fight at super-bantam, he’ll stay there but it isn’t a division that has lots of big fights domestically or internationally, so we’ll probably both be up there. I just want a big year and plenty of momentum.”
He is adamant he will not be a fighter who looks back on his career with regrets. He was never expected to come close to challenging for world honours, but performed admirably both times, earning plaudits despite suffering defeats.
“My two defeats I have nothing to blame. The weight was bang on, which is the usual excuse but I can put it to bed and say the better man beat me both times. I didn’t cut any corners, like some other fighters do. They do that, it’s something that chews at them and they regret for the rest of their days,” he said.
“We’ve got a long life after the sport and I’d never want to sit there and think if only. It’d be a killer for me, but I have the discipline to do everything properly and leave the sport satisfied with whatever I achieve.”