JAMIE McDonnell put an emphatic full stop on a six month tale of unwanted distraction by stopping Ivan Pozo inside two rounds.
Repeated switching of dates, turmoil in his camp, the last minute switch of opponent – McDonnell could hardly have had a less ideal build up to a fight which was so important in the future direction of his career.
Yet when he stepped between the ropes at Hillsborough Leisure Centre last weekend, McDonnell was the most assured man in South Yorkshire.
The Hatfield fighter exuded class, composure and discipline from the first bell to the moment the fight was waved off after little more than five minutes of action.
He dismantled Ivan Pozo with such ease, he admitted afterwards he ‘felt sorry’ for the former European flyweight king.
McDonnell’s most impressive attribute over the last year has not been his remarkable heart or his ability to absorb hefty shots, it has been his execution of a game plan.
Give him a job to do and he will go out and do it to the letter, something he proved in two classic bouts against Stephane Jamoye and Stuart Hall.
Saturday night’s game plan was drafted and executed to perfection – the look of complete dejection on the face of Pozo at the start of the second round confirmed that.
The Spanish fighter may not be at the level he once was, but in truth he never got the chance to argue otherwise.
The strong, come-forward fighter was denied any opportunity to do what comes most natural to him in the ring.
McDonnell commanded the centre of the ring, using his four and a half inch height advantage to the fullest.
He plugged away with the jab with impressive accuracy, piercing Pozo’s guard with regularity and maintaining a highly disciplined approach.
Pozo never got near McDonnell in the first round and his expression as he made his way out of the corner for the second betrayed his true feelings – he looked a beaten man.
Two minutes later, he was.
McDonnell continued to keep him at bay while a superb uppercut/left hook combo showed signs he could be in for a particularly early night.
Pozo retreated to the ropes and his attempts to force his way clear left him wide open for a finishing blow.
He raised his guard to deflect a right hand and McDonnell responded with a crunching left hook under his elbow, straight into the bottom of the Spaniard’s ribcage.
McDonnell can rightly claim to be among the best body punchers in the country and this particular blow spoke volumes.
Pozo dropped to his knees, the grimace on his face leaving no doubt the damage had been done and he made no attempt to meet referee Adrio Zannoni’s count.
A bigger test of McDonnell’s considerable mettle is needed next if he is to prove himself ready for the world stage.
But the demolition of a man who has already stepped on it was a major statement of intent.