JAMIE McDonnell can sense history in the making and he is determined to make it happen.
On Saturday, the Hatfield bantamweight will face replacement Darwin Zamora in Sheffield for the chance to fight for the IBF world bantamweight title.
No Doncaster boxer in history has fought for a globally recognised world title – Bruce Woodcock’s unsuccessful outing against American Lee Savold in 1950 was acknowledged only by the British Boxing Board of Control.
Victory over Nicaraguan fighter Zamora will put McDonnell next in line for a dream shot at the IBF crown.
“I’ve got more fire in my belly for this fight than any other one I’ve had,” the 26-year-old told the Free Press.
“I really can’t wait for this now.
“It’s a massive fight in front of a massive crowd in a great venue which is what you’re always working towards as a boxer.
“And it’s the chance to make a bit of history in Doncaster.
“I’m proud of what I’ve achieved already and I think it’ll be a long time before anyone from round here matches what I’ve done.
“But to be Doncaster’s first world champion would be unbelievable and I’m not going to miss out on that.”
The fight came with less than nine week’s notice for McDonnell, denying him the opportunity for a full training camp after a summer of ‘living it up’ as he puts it.
But he insists he has thrown everything he has into getting ready for the bout and actually thinks a more intense training camp suits him.
He said: “The shorter notice with this one hasn’t been too bad because it’s kept me focussed.
“I’ve got bored in the past with ten or 12 week camps but this one has flown by.
“I’ve been a very good boy since this fight was signed and it’ll all be worth it.
“We’ve squeezed in three sessions a day wherever we could.
“I’ve worked as hard as I ever have for a fight and I feel in brilliant condition.
“I finished off the sparring with Rendall Munroe (former European super bantamweight champion) last week with ten hard rounds and I felt like I could have done plenty more.
“I’m ready to go the distance in this one but I’d really like to end it early.”
McDonnell had prepared to meet tough South African Vusi Malinga who was forced to withdraw after allegedly being denied clearance following a routine brain scan.
Juan Alberto Rosas was initially drafted in as a replacement but he passed out attempting to make the weight last weekend with the IBF then turning their attention to super flyweight Zamora.
With all the talk of a potential world title fight, McDonnell admits it is tough not to look past this weekend’s bout.
He said: “You do have to work hard to keep your focus in a situation like this because the prize at the other side of this fight could be something huge.
“I have been thinking about that a lot and that’s something you can’t really help.
“But my main focus now is getting the job done, beating Darwin Zamora.
“I’ve not had a good chance to take a look at him because of the last minute switch but he’s a southpaw and that’s what I’ve been training for.
“I know I’m going to be bigger than him and I’ve took control against smaller kids in the past.
“I believe I’ve got what it takes to beat him and then go on to beat Leo Santa Cruz (current IBF champion.)”
Saturday night will see McDonnell share a little of the spotlight currently occupied by Kell Brook.
The Sheffield welterweight is also competing in an IBF world title final eliminator but has garnered much more attention over his career than McDonnell has.
And that is something he is determined to change.
“(Promoter) Eddie Hearn told me I should as big a star as Kell is but I’ve not been promoted right,” McDonnell said.
“Frank Maloney let me down and never really got me what I needed in terms of fights.
“But we’ve sorted this with Eddie Hearn and it’s just what you want.
“The atmosphere in there will be out of this world because that’s what kind of reaction Kell has managed to generate.
“I’ll have plenty of supporters in there as well and I’m sure Kell’s fans will get behind another South Yorkshire fighter.
“We’re at the same sort of place in our careers but I’ve got to catch him up in terms of recognition.
“I need to make a big statement in this fight to do that and a knock out would do that.
“Whatever happens, I’m determined to put on a good performance and show how good I can be.
“It’s going to be a great night.”