WHEN the first few bars of Mr Brightside rang out at the cavernous Sheffield Arena, it felt like the big stage that Jamie McDonnell belongs on.
The partisan South Yorkshire crowd – many witnessing McDonnell in the flesh for the first time – roared him to the ring.
And they continued to roar as he dismantled the tough Darwin Zamora to secure a shot at the IBF world bantamweight title in the near future.
McDonnell’s rapid rise to supremacy in Europe and his climb to the upper echelons of the global bantamweight division have gone under the radar.
But the 26-year-old is certainly registering on that radar now after a demonstration of phenomenal accuracy and great patience.
It became clear very early in the fight that no matter how many times McDonnell hit Zamora clean, the Nicaraguan would keep coming back for more.
But eight rounds of constant chopping away at the South American hardwood took its toll.
Full credit must go to Zamora.
The Nicaraguan took the fight – against an opponent looking to prove himself among the best in the world – with less than a week’s notice, gave up more than a stone in weight on the night and took a hell of a beating.
Zamora simply was not quick or savvy enough to avoid the increasingly accurate arsenal of McDonnell but he was tough enough to take it.
It seemed likely referee Phil Edwards would have been forced to make a decision in the ninth with Zamora’s defences decreasing and his face increasingly bloodied.
But the merciful decision was taken by Zamora’s corner who threw in the towel between the rounds.
McDonnell set his stall out in the first round by working the jab superbly, keeping Zamora at distance.
The Nicaraguan big hitter looked for the sweeping hooks and upper cuts as he tried to pressure the other way but failed to land anything meaningful.
McDonnell quickly discovered that the left hook to the body was key to opening up his opponent and the second round saw the combinations begin to flow.
Zamora began to clutch at McDonnell’s arms in an attempt to spoil the contest but the Hatfield bantamweight was savvy enough to find his way out.
McDonnell followed a body shot early in third with a pair of strong hooks to the head which had Zamora rattled and a stunning four punch combination in the fourth gave the first hint that the Nicaraguan’s night would be ending early.
Zamora had increasing trouble when his back was on the ropes and seemed to have little idea on how to fight his way out under pressure.
But he would produce a couple of powerful shots from nowhere, just to remind McDonnell of the ferocious punching that saw him KO 18 opponents down at super flyweight.
The length of the flurries from McDonnell only increased as the fight wore on with Zamora’s ability to defend diminishing.
At the start of the sixth round McDonnell seemed to land almost everything he threw at the Nicaraguan.
Blood flowed from above Zamora’s left eye as the constant beating took its toll.
Zamora definitely looked as though he needed to be taken out of the bout in the eighth.
A fierce right straight sent him stumbling back while another biting hook to the body clearly hurt him.
He slowly made his way back to the corner at the end of the round and a minute later the towel went in thanks to a wise decision from his corner team.
McDonnell celebrated wildly as the magnitude of his achievement hit home.
The opponent was not a world class bantamweight – one who barely broke the limit after trying to pile the pounds on after the weigh in.
But the professional manner which McDonnell dealt with a tricky opponent helped add some weight to his claims he is the best in the world at the weight.
Questions still remain about the quality of McDonnell’s defence as he continues to take more shots than is ideal.
But his chin, his skin and his heart continue to answer all questions asked of them.
McDonnell took a confident first step onto the big stage last weekend.
And he guaranteed that his next step will be on the grandest stage of them all.
Next stop: the world.