Michael Jennings

Michael Jennings will fight London based Irish man, John O’Donnell for the vacant British welterweight crown on the 3rd July at the Preston Guild Hall, and will try to win back the Lonsdale belt he once owned.

Jennings has had to bide his time for another shot at the British title after seeing his proposed clash with Kell Brook postponed four times! Three times Brook withdrew through injury, then a knuckle problem for Jennings prevented him from taking the rearranged fight in March.

But Brook’s decision to vacate the title, has seen the British Boxing Board of Control install Jennings as the number one contender with O’Donnell his foe.

It will be Jennings first title fight since his fifth-round knockout by Miguel Cotto for the vacant WBO belt in February last year.

O’Donnell was a controversial winner over Watson last year when winning the Commonwealth title on a much-disputed split decision.

Jennings, 32, runs his own security company and plays the drums in local band The Shoks, when he isn’t boxing, can’t wait to swap drum sticks for gloves and get back in the ring and back on the title trail, more than 12 months in the shadows since the world title loss to Cotto.

His clash with O’Donnell will be his first 12-rounder since stepping out at Madison Square Garden, his last two fights since then were low key affairs, a fourth round Ko over Willie Thompson and a points victory over eight rounds against Hungarian Laszlo Komjath.

British Boxers caught up with Chorley fighter Jennings this week to talk about his  3rd July clash with O’ Donnell for the Lonsdale belt.

Michael we haven’t seen you in the ring since last October a Komjathi, will the time out of the ring and the kell Brooke postponements effect you in any way?
It’s been frustrating, I kept getting asked when I’d be fighting again, Kell has pulled out and then I had to pull out of the fight in March when I injured my hand, and since then I’ve just been waiting. I’m not getting any younger. I want to be fighting for titles now. But I’m always in the gym, I’m not one of those fighters who has a fight and then a month off, I’ll have a week off and then I’m back in the gym. Ive been training now for the last 3 weeks and with the McDonnell fight 6 weeks away, it will be like a 9 week training camp, and I didn’t need that, but the extra time will allow me to get the weight down and keep sharp, i will step it up now and get in fight mode.

John O’ Donnell

What about your opponent John O’ Donnell, what do you know about him and how tough a fight will this be for you?

John O’ Donnell is a good fighter, I thought he was lucky getting a decision over Craig Watson though, I did think Watson won that fight for the Commonwealth, He is a tricky southpaw, tall and rangy, and it could be a tough fight for me, but il be ready for him.

Was it disappointing not getting the fight with Kell Brook to prove yourself the best welterweight in Britain, its the fight the fans wanted to see?
Yeah it has been, I think its like the 4th time now its been called off, he pulled out 3 times and then I pulled out because Id injured my knuckle, it is a sickner because that’s the fight I think everybody wanted to see, but what can you do, I can only fight who is put in front of me.
When the Brook fight was announced last time, within a few hours the websites were full of peoples comments on the fight and there was a lot of talk about it, so that is a fight that people do want to see, and I’m sure it will happen, it’ll come off.
Miguel Cotto (right) tries to give Michael Jen...
Jennings takes on Cotto

Your biggest fight to date was against the great Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, for the welterweight championship of the world in Madison Square Garden?

I was watching Cotto before I actually fought him and admiring him as a boxer, I mean when I boxed him he was still one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, but I went into that fight I wouldn’t say without any pressure, because everybody thought I was going to get knocked out anyway, so I did want to prove everyone wrong in that sense, and I did go into that fight with no doubt that I was going to win it, because I go into all my fights like that, the day I start taking fights for the money I’ll pack up, I do it for the love of the sport, and the promoters can take the piss sometimes because they know most boxers will fight anyway, it is more of a pride thing with me, I want to win! and to get a pay cheque at the end of it is a bonus.

Has fighting Cotto in Madison Square Gardens helped you become a better boxer?
Yeah, I have always been a positive fighter, but I boxed one of the best in the world in Cotto, in probably the best boxing arena in the world, in the main hall of the garden, so no other fight for me could have been as daunting for me as that one, so Ive got that experience which not alot of other British fighters have, I know Amir Khan boxed at the Garden against Malignaggi the other week, but even that wasn’t in the main arena. I had to box in the main ring in front of thousands of Puerto Rican’s hating me, I don’t think it gets as daunting as that.

Miguel Cotto vs. Michael Jennings fight video, Michael took on Miguel Cotto for the WBO welterweight title, in front of 5000 baying Puerto Ricans, in the main hall at Madison Square Garden. Cotto dominated the bout, dropping Jennings twice in the fourth round with merciless body shots and once in the fifth before the fight was stopped 2:36 of the fifth round

It was nice to see you come in the ring with the famous Brian Hughes “Collyhurst and Moston Lads Club” on the back of your gown, you are from Chorley, but don’t the Manchester fans see you as something of an adopted Mancunian?
Well Ive trained at Brian’s for the last 12 years, im up in Manchester every single day, and as well as Chorley that’s where I fight for, Moston gym is where I train out of, when I walk around Manchester, I probably get more people coming up to me talking about boxing more than I do in Chorley and I class myself as a Manchester fighter (Chorley is 20 minutes from Manchester)
What influence has spending 12 years with Brian Hughes (MBE) had on your boxing career and life?
Brian has been doing this now for over 50 years, you cant just pick that experience up, or buy it, you’ve got to go through it, Brian passes it onto you, tactics defence all that, what he gives me I couldn’t get it anywhere else. Brian is always cool, unless somethings going drastically wrong in a fight, then he will wake you up a bit, and once he does that then you know, shit id better wake up, because you don’t usually see Brian like that, so he knows how to get the best from you. Even as a person, he is a top guy a father figure.
Pat Barrett former British and European light-welterweight champion and another of Brian’s Manchester prodigies, also now trains you at the Moston gym as Brian’s right hand man?
Yeah Pats a top trainer, he’s had all the experience from Brian when he started, plus he’s been in championship fights, British title fights, European title fights, world title fights, so he passes all that knowledge onto the other lads.

Collyhurst & Moston Boxing Gym video by Ballyupnorth

Brian Hughes and Pat Barrett training the stable of fighters at the famous gym above the Co-op in the inner city suburb of Moston, Manchester, where Michael has trained for 12 years, includes Mike Jackson, Sam Betts, Michael Jennings, Matthew Hall, Thomas McDonagh, Scott Quigg, Rhys Roberts, Robbie Reed, Terry McDermott, Ray Jennings, Paulino DeSilva, Ahmed

Which fights do you want if you re-claim the British title against McDonnell?
Well if I win it and defend it one more time, that makes the Lonsdale belt mine to keep, because I’ve already had it before and defended it, but to be honest with you I’m not really mivered who I fight, so long as the fights I’m having are bettering me, and they are not going backward fights, then I’m happy and il fight anyone

Finally any other British fighters on the scene at the moment who you think we should look out for?
Yeah, you might think I’m biased but, I’m a big fan of Scott Quigg a lad from our gym, I don’t know if you have seen anything of Scott? but he is the real deal that kid, I know Brian doesn’t like any of us shouting any ones name off and all that sort of thing, but hey he is going to be the boy in Britain, defiantly and everyone will know him, watch out for him!

Bury’s unbeaten super bantamweight Scott Quigg tops the bill when professional boxing returns to Bury on Saturday 29th May after the local council lifted its ban on the sport.
The whole show can be seen live online via Hatton TV pay-per-view for just £2.99 Visit www.hattonboxing.tv

Thanks for your time Michael speaking to www.britishboxers.co.uk we wish you luck in your up-coming British title fight and all the best in your career.

By Chris Maylett for www.britishboxers.co.uk

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