DOUBLE champion Jamie McDonnell is ready to rumble as he prepares for the first of a three fight series that could propel him to world stardom.
The 25-year-old Hatfield bantamweight defends his Commonwealth crown against tough Kenyan Nick Otieno in Sheffield on Saturday night.
He is then set for a showdown with unbeaten British champion Stuart Hall in September before making another European title defence which could lead him to challenge for the world crown next year.
McDonnell said: “I’ve got to focus on one fight at a time because I’ve got so much to lose if I don’t.
“If I want to fight for the world title I have to win on Saturday and I’m up against a very tough opponent.”
But he added: “Training couldn’t have gone any better and I can’t wait to climb into the ring.
“I’m in great shape and the sparring is probably the best I’ve ever had.”
McDonnell is confident of victory but is expecting to go the distance against an opponent who has never been stopped before in 27 professional fights.
Otieno has won 21 contests, stopping almost half his opponents, and his last two defeats were against unbeaten world ranked opponents.
The African champion is a pressure fighter with a dangerous left hook and has a reputation of causing upsets when he has been the underdog.
It will be a new experience for McDonnell who has never fought an African opponent before and he said: “I know he will be strong and I’ve prepared to go the full twelve rounds but, if I get a chance to stop him I’ll go for it.”
Top promoter Frank Maloney is eager to match McDonnell against unbeaten Hall next time out in a top of the bill fight with three titles - European, British and Commonwealth - at stake.
And McDonnell is only too happy to accommodate him - providing it is held in Doncaster, at the Dome.
The Hatfield man normally has a noisy, partisan following in his home town.
But he has not found it as easy to sell tickets for Saturday’s fight in Sheffield, which is being televised live on Sky TV at 10pm but also clashes with the Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona earlier in the evening.
McDonnell said: “I’m sure the Sheffield crowd will get behind me but it’s not quite the same as fighting at the Dome.
“I’ve never lost in Doncaster and the whole place was buzzing when I fought there for the European title in January.”
He knows he will probably have to travel if he is to realise his world title dreams - but the prospect does not bother him.
When he won the European title in France just over a year ago few boxing pundits gave him a chance.
But he stopped highly rated home favourite Jerome Arnould in ten rounds.
He said: “It doesn’t worry me fighting abroad, or anywhere else, for that matter.
“But I don’t want the local fans who support me having to fork out to travel unnecessarily.
“First things first though. I have to win on Saturday.”