Gavin McDonnell says beating Alexander Egorov for the vacant European Super Bantamweight title at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield on March 28 will prove he’s capable of mixing it at world level.
McDonnell faces the Ukrainian on the undercard of Kell Brook’s title defense against Jo Jo Dan, and McDonnell has his own sights set on world title action this year.
The 28 year old goes into the clash with Egorov on the back of his biggest win of his career in October when he floored former World title challenger Vusi Malinga on his way to a points win over the South African in Hull.
The unbeaten twin of World Bantamweight king Jamie had been held to a draw in a great clash with Josh Wale five months earlier, and McDonnell says that the win over Malinga proves he is ready to step up.
“Coming off the draw with Josh Wale, to go into a big fight like that against Malinga is what I needed to show where I belong.
“Pulling off a big win off like that has done me the world of good and I am proud that I stepped up to the plate when I needed to.
“We knew what Vusi was. He isn’t the fastest on his feet when you are up against him. We thought if we kept it long he would have problems with movement and that was the game plan was; keep it long, use my height and my reach and win plenty of rounds that way.
“The fight was about getting the confidence for myself and showing other people that I do belong at that level. I had seen Vusi fight and coming off the draw I said to Stefy Bull ‘that is a fight I would be confident in’. Stefy put it to Eddie Hearn and he was able to pull it off.
“There were a few ways I could have gone; I could have gone back and had an easier fight, build the record a bit, I could have fought Jazza Dickens, or I could have taken the step that I did. I took that step and it paid off, and it has filled me with confidence more than anything. It has put me back to where I believe I was. A draw knocks your confidence but coming back with a big win like that is massive.
“I believe I can be a World champion. I have seen first-hand with Jamie that it can be achieved if you put the work in. The confidence is there and I am willing to put the work in, so it is about getting the right fights at the right times. I know I am not a world-class operator but I am willing to mix it and learn and I am hoping that one day I can get a chance at a World title and win one.”
McDonnell is determined to add his name to the most recent European champions in Kiko Martinez, Carl Frampton and Kid Galahad – who along with Scott Quigg are Europe’s leading lights on the World stage in the Super Bantamweight division. McDonnell expects claiming the European title will elevate him to that level, and while he says Egorov is an unknown quantity, he is preparing for the toughest fight of his life.
“I expect the hardest fight, the biggest puncher, the fastest hands; I have to build him up to be something that he isn’t.
“When you get in there and they aren’t as good as you think they are, it is a nice bonus. But if you underestimate them and get in the ring you can get a bit of a shock. I tend to over-hype them, build them up to myself. I tell myself it will be a 12-round hard fight, which is what I am preparing for.
“At the minute we are both on a mission, picking up as many belts and having as many achievements as we can. When we do retire we will be able to sit down and say we did this, we did that, and I think that is when we will appreciate what we managed to achieve.
“The likes of Quigg and Frampton are fighting at a top level and won’t be looking back at kids like me coming through and I don’t expect them too. At the moment they are a level above me but it is my goal to get to a level when I can mix it with them and I believe in time those fights will happen.
“It is down to me to earn those fights; I am a firm believer that everybody has to earn their right and I haven’t earned mine yet. I have to keep working away, get bigger fights and get up the rankings. By the time those fights come along I will be more confident but as it is at the minute they have a lot more experience than me.”
McDonnell’s clash with Egorov is part of a massive night of action in the Steel City, as Sheffield star Brook defends his World title for the first time against number one mandatory challenger Dan.