British boxing’s newest world champion, IBF bantamweight title holder Jamie McDonnell is at the top of his game and on the verge of the big unification fights that will guarantee him financial security for the rest of his life, but it was not so long ago that the Doncaster fighter felt he had no future in boxing.
McDonnell, 27, was crowned world champion after his points win over Julio Ceja in his home town’s Keepmoat football stadium in Doncaster earlier this month, but it hasn’t been all plain sailing for him and he still cant believe he is a world champion!
After losing his 10th and 11th fights, first to Chris Edwards in December 2007 for the British super-flyweight title and then to Lee Haskins in March 2008, both on points, McDonnell was in the boxing wilderness and couldn’t see where his future lay in a sport he wasn’t taking too seriously. But all that was to change and the boxers fortunes began to change and with it his attitude to his career.
But after joining up with new coaches Dave Hulley and former pro, Stefy Bull in 2009, McDonnell totally turned his career around, going onto win British, European and Commonwealth titles, before claiming the world title in what has been a tremendous turn around. “There was no vision for me back then,” McDonnell told the Doncaster Free Press. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything.
“I always knew I had it in me but I’d never trained hard, never dug in and never put everything into a proper training camp.
“I’d never done anything right until I started training with Dave and Stefy in 2009.”
A year after joining his new coaches, McDonnell was offered a shot at the British title against champion Ian Nappa, on the line that night was the vacant Commonwealth belt too. The Yorkshireman narrowly outpointed London stylist Nappa that night and getting his hands on the Lonsdale belt that night in Essex, was his springboard to the top.
But McDonnell admits that when he was offered the fight with Nappa for the British title, he didn’t even know what one was! McDonnell was never a boxing fan and never followed the game. He did it because he was good at it and it was a wage, but he soon realised winning titles would increase his fight purses and it became serious, although McDonnell explains, he still cant believe he is a world champion.
“I didn’t know what a British title was. I don’t follow boxing at all,” added McDonnell.
“To be honest, when I won that I thought ‘hello, a nice bit of money here, particularly when I got the European title fight straight after.
“But as soon as I beat Jerome Arnould for the European title my attitude changed.
“He was the first kid with a really good record I’d faced and I dusted him away. I stuck to a game plan and it was easy.
“That’s when I knew I wanted to be a world champion and that I was capable of doing it.
“I knew I wanted to knuckle down and make something of myself.”
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m world champion. I just can’t believe it.
“It still hasn’t sunk in that I won all those other belts so I don’t think this will ever sink in.”
Watch the Full Fight, when Jamie McDonnell defeated Julio Ceja to win the IBF world title continue to the next page.
Jamie McDonnell was crowned IBF bantamweight world champion after a points win over Julio Ceja in Doncaster on May 11 2013.
McDonnell was forced on the back foot by the Mexican in the early rounds, but his disciplined display and high workrate earned a majority decision, with an extremely generous score of 118-110 followed by tallies of 115-113 and 114-114.
Ceja has a reputation as a big puncher and McDonnell wisely adopted a cagey approach in the opener, keeping his opponent at bay with range-finding jabs.
But Ceja continued to march towards McDonnell and he landed hurtful hooks to the body in the second, while the Englishman shipped more spiteful shots in the third.
McDonnell fired back in the fourth with left hands before an uppercut got his attention, but the Englishman appeared to edge the fifth by visibly upping the tempo.
Ceja again was the bully in the sixth, forcing McDonnell back with stinging shots, although the home favourite rallied in the seventh and pumped out combinations.
McDonnell’s dogged effort appeared to turn the tide as Ceja was struggling to last the pace, but he gave a reminder of his threat with big shots in the 10th.
Worse was to follow in the 11th as Ceja uncorked a huge hook on McDonnell, but he shook it off and battled through the round.
McDonnell finished the final round strongly and was roared on to victory by his delighted hometown crowd.