By Tom Gray
Sometimes in boxing a fighter is required to avenge a victory.
Last October, Jamie McDonnell claimed a 12-round unanimous decision over former junior bantamweight titleholder Liborio Solis in Monte Carlo. The scores were wide in the Englishman’s favor: 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113, but there were few observers who felt those numbers were an accurate reflection of the action.
McDonnell, who is rated No. 2 by THE RING at 118 pounds, took the subsequent criticism hard. The former IBF titleholder is a fiercely dedicated professional who has covered himself in glory over the course of a glittering 12-year professional career. It may come as a surprise to some fans but, officially, the Doncaster man hasn’t tasted defeat since countryman Lee Haskins outpointed him over eight rounds in March 2008.
His well-earned fighter’s pride might be the reason why McDonnell, who faces Solis again in Monte Carlo this Saturday, saw the fight differently.
“When I watch it back, I still believe I won the fight by three or four rounds,” said McDonnell in an interview with RingTV.com. “Even in there, I remember being in cruise mode because I always felt that I was winning. I felt confident all the way to the end and never once thought he’d beaten me.
“All the controversy came after the fight when people were saying I’d lost. That got me down a little bit. I thought I’d won convincingly. A lot of people don’t believe that, but I’m just going on how I felt when I was in there. Solis was missing a lot but maybe, at times, I wasn’t coming back enough with my own shots. They might feel he had more work rate during those spells.”
The 36-year-old Solis, who is rated No. 6 by THE RING at bantamweight, was habitually aggressive and applied constant pressure. For McDonnell, a renowned volume puncher, to acknowledge that he didn’t fire back at the Venezuelan veteran enough gives us an idea of what to expect in the sequel. McDonnell plans to meet fire with fire.
“I’m a different animal now,” said the amiable 31-year-old, who has also claimed British, Commonwealth and European titles during his career. “I’m on it this time, mentally focused, and I want to make a statement. I overlooked Solis in the first fight. He was getting on a bit (in years) and, deep down, I probably expected an easy touch.
“I’ve had the best camp ever and I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. I’ve left no stone unturned in terms of diet and I’ve eaten exactly what my nutritionist has asked. I’m feeling fantastic mentally and physically. I’ll do a job on Solis and put this right. He’ll be confident coming into the rematch because he felt he won last time. But, given how hard I’ve trained, there will only be one winner.”
McDonnell is accustomed to winning and he’s accustomed to winning at bantamweight. Rarely has he campaigned above the 118-pound limit and at 5-foot-10 inches tall, the process of making weight is taking a toll on the Englishman. A move north has been discussed for over two years now.
The Solis rematch is likely to be his last fight at bantamweight before the inevitable step up to junior featherweight. That is unfortunate because Ryan Burnett, a Matchroom Boxing stablemate, recently unified the IBF and WBA 118-pound titles with an impressive 12-round unanimous decision win over Zhanat Zhakiyanov.
“Ryan came to Texas with me and we sparred before the (first Tomoki) Kameda fight,” recalled McDonnell. “I always knew he was destined to be a world champion. He’s got the skills, the sharpness, the power; he’s got it all. He’s impressed over the last year or so and he’ll fight anyone in the division. I take my hat off to him because he beat a good fighter in Z.Z. (Zhakiyanov).
“The thing is, I’ve spoken with (trainer) Dave (Coldwell) and as good as this camp has been, we don’t want to be at bantamweight long enough to get beat and say we should have moved on. I would like to move up after Solis, give myself a new lease of life and win some more world titles. If (promoter) Eddie (Hearn) came to me with the Burnett fight, depending on what was on the table and when it was, then I’d fight him, but that’s not going to be any time soon.”
Reading between the lines, McDonnell wants to make bantamweight a memory but first he has a date with Solis who, once again, will be determined to test him to the full.
Editor’s Note: McDonnell will be defending a version of the WBA bantamweight title which is unrecognized by THE RING.
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing