McDonnell feeling on top of the world

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Jamie McDonnell aims to be the toast of Doncaster tonight as he bids to become the first boxer from the town to win a world title.

McDonnell, 27, meets Julio Ceja of Mexico at the Keepmoat Stadium for the vacant IBF world bantamweight title.

The Yorkshireman has taken a long road to potentially the greatest night of his life, with 20 wins from 23 fights since debuting in 2005.

Ceja, who is seven years his junior, has advanced a lot quicker, winning all 24 of his fights, 22 by knockout, after turning professional four years ago at the tender age of 16.

The explosive, unpredictable talent of the Central American – a region renowned for producing world-class boxers – makes him a dangerous opponent, but McDonnell has prepared better than ever before for his world title shot.

McDonnell, who has won the British, Commonwealth and European titles in his last eight fights, even moved his trainer, Dave Hulley, into his home to help him prepare.

“We’ve nailed the training and the diet – it couldn’t have gone better,” said McDonnell, whose two defeats came in a mid-career wobble five years ago.

“Normally, I’d come in with my head down because the diet hasn’t been going so well so it’s great not to have that worry.

“Dave moved in with me and that has definitely helped because he’s not let me get away with anything.

“I knew from the start of this camp that everything had to be spot on and it has been. I’ve never been more ready.

“This is the best I’ve ever felt and the most confident I’ve ever felt.”

McDonnell is managed by Dennis Hobson, the man who steered Sheffield’s Clinton Woods to the world light heavyweight title in the last decade.

Having such a well-connected manager has enabled McDonnell to earn his shot at the title, and as well as the IBF belt, he has his heart set on unifying the bantamweight division.

“Ceja has got the best record out there so once I get him out of the way then I do believe I will unify the division,” said a determined McDonnell.

“I have a vision of myself standing there with three or four belts wrapped around me.

“Right now, though, I’m not looking past this fight because this kid’s record is enough to frighten anybody.

“But it doesn’t scare me and this is just a massive occasion to show that I’m the best in the world.

“I’m ready to make history.

“I don’t know whether that is down to the fight being at the Keepmoat in my home town or what.

“Some people probably wouldn’t feel as confident as this going in with this kid. But I do.”