Boxing: Sheffield’s Ross Burkinshaw v Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell: could it happen?

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In 14 months, Sheffield fighter Ross Burkinshaw went from zero to hero.

He spring-boarded from a two-round defeat to Doncaster’s Gavin McDonnell to a 12-round Commonwealth title win over Jason Cunningham.

Bantamweight ''Ross Burkinshaw (Sheffield) beats Jason Cunningham (Doncaster). ''Picture by Dan Westwell''.

Bantamweight ''Ross Burkinshaw (Sheffield) beats Jason Cunningham (Doncaster). ''Picture by Dan Westwell''.

Now. in the years ahead, he is optimistic he can get to the level where he can challenge the likes of Gavin’s brother Jamie, who is WBA world bantamweight champion.

Burkinshaw had unexpectedly been granted the Commonwealth opportunity at three days notice and made the most of it. The Beighton bantamweight has been enjoying the trappings of success ever since.

But now he is back in training camp for his first defence at Sheffield’s Octagon theatre on February 21: “I am back in training and ticking over - it means a lot to retain it.”

Burkinshaw is rated fifth in the British rankings. “I am in good company: Martin Ward, who is number four but is moving up in weight, Lee Haskins, third, is a great fighter, Stuey Hall who has only just lost the world title, and Jamie McDonnell number one. So I’m up there with the top boys.”

Could he ever forsee getting in with Jamie? “Who knows what could happen” said the Ryan Rhodes trained fighter. “Me and Jamie, we used to have a bit of a spat at each other saying we would fight but it never came off, but who knows? He is a lot further ahead than me but if the fight came I’d love to take it but I can’t see it happening just yet.”

Burkinshaw admits he’s come a long way since that humbling loss to Gavin. “I maybe took Gavin a bit lightly and at the time I wasn’t training how I am now, I have worked on lots of different things. Ryan always takes me back to the basics, he has me in the mirror, practising my footwork, head movement and anything he sees that isn’t right we work on that. He drills it into me.”

As for his New Year wishes after his first defence he said: “I’d like to move on to an international title, a WBO or WBC.”

He added: “I didn’t expect to fight for the Commonwealth this year, I expected a big belt like this by the end of next year.

“So I have done everything a year early. So whatever comes now is just a bonus to me!”