Jamie McDonnell says he is determined to win the IBF world bantamweight title this weekend as a thank you to training duo Stefy Bull and Dave Hulley.
The Denaby pair took a somewhat wayward McDonnell under their wings in 2009 when they teamed up to open a pro gym at Mexborough’s Empress Ballroom.
Hulley and Bull guided the Hatfield fighter to British, Commonwealth and European title glory in a matter of months and have helped mastermind his rise to the world level.
This weekend will see the culmination of their work when McDonnell walks out under the stars at the Keepmoat Stadium to fight for the vacant IBF strap, becoming the first Doncaster fighter to ever contest a world crown.
McDonnell – who began his boxing life with the late Eric Walker at the Wombwell and Dearne ABC in Bolton-on-Dearne – is as focussed and fit as he has ever been heading into the bout.
And he is out to win to hand over the title belt to two men he knows it will mean so much to.
“This is for all of us,” McDonnell told the Times.
“This means more to Dave and Stefy than it does me, winning this world title.
“They love their boxing so much. They know the history.
“It’s just as important to win this fight for them.”
Over the last three months Hulley has lived with McDonnell to keep him on the straight and narrow when it comes to training and diet.
This provides the perfect example of the dedication both Hulley and Bull have shown towards McDonnell’s cause.
The 27-year-old admits tension has arisen on more than a few occasions but he is exceptionally grateful for their contribution.
He said: “It’s me, Dave and Stefy. It’s been us three for so long.
“It was me and them when they started training and they’ve grown the gym massively from then.
“It’s got to the stage where Dave moves in with me – he’s willing to do that and sacrifice his family life to make sure I’m where I need to be.
“Everything has got to be spot on this and it just shows how far they’re willing to go to make sure I’m right.
“Without those two I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“I wouldn’t be fighting for a world title on Saturday.
“I’m not saying it’s not been hard work.
“Dave keeps drilling things into me and I’m sure there’s been a few times when both him and Bully have wanted to pack in,
“And sometimes I think ‘give it a rest Dave.
“We’ve had some fallouts over the last few months. We’ll be doing 12 hill sprints and Dave will all of a sudden stick a few more in.
“This one time I started arguingh with him.
“But after ten minutes we’re laughing it off – that’s how we are.
“For him and Bully to persist with me and have that dedication, I’m so grateful.
“I want to win it for them.”
McDonnell admits he has been overwhelmed by the support he has received from his home town in the build-up to Saturday’s bout.
He has been out and about across South Yorkshire to promote the fight and has been pleased by the reaction.
He said: “There’s so many people who want to see me win a world title in Doncaster and you want to do it for them.
“You can feel the people who genuinely want you to win this one.
“I can see their faces in my mind when I’m out running and it pulls you through.
“I said in an interview that if kids want to take the belt into school when I win and show off a world title, they can.
“I think I dropped one there because I’ve had loads of tweets from people lining up for it.
“This is for everyone to enjoy. This is for Doncaster.”
Conisbrough heavyweight Dave Allen is also on the bill, looking to continue the 100 per cent start to his professional career.
Tickets are still available for Saturday night, priced between £35 and £175.
To book or for more information call 0844 324 5590.