McDonnell v Yegorov: Gavin’s bid for Euro title five years in the making

Gavin McDonell
Gavin McDonell

Five years ago - almost to the day – Gavin McDonnell made what seemed like a ludicrous claim.

A couple of hours earlier his twin brother Jamie had won the European bantamweight title by knocking out Jerome Arnould in Cannes.

Gavin quietened the small group that had travelled to the south of France and said the fateful words: ‘If our kid can do it, so can I.’

It was a statement that would be laughed off as talk driven by celebratory drink.

And the fact this McDonnell brother had just five amateur fights as a young teenager and was probably a couple of stone off his fighting weight.

But ultimately it would be Gavin having the last laugh.

On Saturday night, five years and eight days from that night in France, McDonnell will fight for the European title himself.

One day shy of his 29th birthday, he will face Oleksandr Yegorov for the vacant European super bantamweight title at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena.

“It’s amazing how things have turned out, to be in this position five years on from that night is phenomenal,” McDonnell told the Free Press.

Getting the Dunscroft fighter to wax lyrical about his rapid rise to international success is difficult, simply because he seems to take it in his stride.

It is easy to forget Saturday night’s bout will be just the 15th of his career.

The 14 before it brought the Central Area, British and WBO intercontinental titles and a deal with Matchroom Boxing.

McDonnell puts his laid back reflection down to one simple thing: confidence.

He said: “I suppose I don’t sit down and think about what I’ve achieved because I’ve always been confident about winning.

“Whatever fight I’ve been in, and I’ve been in some tough fights, I’ve always been confident that I’d win it.

“So you don’t really think about the size of achievement .

“It’ll probably come in a few years when I’ve either starting winding down or I’ve finished all together.”

Confidence is the buzzword for McDonnell as he prepares to face unbeaten Ukranian fighter Yegorov.

He said: “I’m confident that I’m going to beat this kid and start a big year with a bang.

“I’ve not seen a great deal about the kid but from what I have seen, nothing really stands out about him.

“This is his first fight outside his country and he’ll be in front of a big crowd who will be behind me all the way.

“Every fight seems to have opened another door for me and I look at this one as the door to joining our kid at world level.

“It’s only a few weeks until he’s flying out to America for his title fight and that’s what I want for me.

“I feel as fit as I’ve ever done, the weight is bang on, I’m ready to go and I’m going to win this.”

An achievement five years in the making – McDonnell certainly thinks so.