McDonnell will head to Tokyo on May 25 to defend his WBA bantamweight title against two-weight world champion Naoya Inoue, rated ninth in Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings.
The Hatfield fighter was quickly named the underdog for the contest but says that will make victory all the more sweet.
“People think I’m going there for the money but it’s not about that,” he told the Free Press.
“It’s about making a massive statement and maybe finally I’ll get the recognition I’ll deserve.
“I’ve gone under the radar all my career. I’m the longest reigning British world champion but no one takes any notice.
“When I get this win, maybe that’s finally when people will say this kid is not bad at all.
“I’m coming toward the last few years of my career and you start looking at what your legacy is going to be.
“I’ve gone over to Texas twice as underdog and defended my world title against a kid everyone fancied.
“And I’m now going to Japan to do the same.
“A win over there and people might just start talking about this kid from Doncaster being a great boxer and achieving all this stuff.”
The 31-year-old insists he has never been more motivated for a fight than his clash with Inoue.
And he says being written off already has only made him more determined to return from the Far East still clutching his WBA title.
“All people are talking about is how I must be mad to take this fight,” he said. “They’re all saying I’ve got no chance.
“But that doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just given me that extra boost for this fight.
“I was driving home at the back end of last week and I suddenly got the buzz for this fight. I started thinking about it and I’m massively up for it.
“I don’t think I’ve been this buzzed for a fight for a long time, probably not ever before.
“People are expecting me to go over there and this kid is going to walk straight through me.
“But that’s not going to happen.
“He’s a good kid but I believe I’ll be too big for him, too strong from him and I’ll get the job done.
“I’m confident I can get the stoppage and really make a statement. It’ll set up some massive fights either at this weight or higher up but it’ll be huge for the time I have left in boxing.
“That’s what it’s all about.”