REVIEW OF 2014: Jamie McDonnell has another career-defining fight in view after Wembley high

Twelve months ago Jamie McDonnell was welcoming in the new year feeling more than a little frustrated.

Thursday, 1st January 2015, 6:00 am
Jamie McDonnell

His treasured IBF world title was gone, stripped thanks to a case of boxing politics which still leave a bitter taste to this day.

And he had been in two ticking over fights in quick succession, both of which brought lacklustre performances he put down to a lack of motivation.

His future was based upon promises of a path back to the top, yet nothing truly tangible.

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But a year on, he has plenty of motivation to work hard and deliver the performance of his life.

And just as was the situation last January, the year ahead is make or break and one where his motivation and desire to succeed will determine which turning his career will take.

McDonnell is back atop the world, the reigning WBA bantamweight champion.

And a unification clash with WBO champion Tomoki Kameda is on the cards for a spring date in Las Vegas.

A career-defining fight and a career-best purse are on the horizon for McDonnell and he claims he will be in the best condition of his life by the time he gets on his trans-Atlantic fight.

Motivation is key for McDonnell, who will admit his dedication to the sport waxes and wanes. His two fights in 2014 are perfect examples of that.

He grasped with both hands the opportunity to fight for a world title on arguably British boxing’s biggest ever show, Froch-Groves II.

While not flawless, he was in full control against a game Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat before a stunning knockout in front of tens of thousands at Wembley Stadium to become world champion again.

It was a prize and a stage that got McDonnell excited.

His other fight in 2014 was a different matter.

A routine first defence against a late change opponent, positioned at just after 6pm on a long, long night of boxing brought a lacklustre performance from Doncaster’s only world boxing champion in history.

He laboured to the win over Javier Chacon, an opponent that while tough, should have been dealt with relatively easy.

The thing that offers optimism for McDonnell going into 2015 is that he was arguably distracted by the carrot of what awaited after Chacon.

He knew before the fight that victory would deliver his unification fight, in Las Vegas and for a life-changing sum of money.

While excited about facing Kameda, the draw of fighting Chacon depleted considerably, particularly as it came so close to the birth of his first child.

He was already talking about how focused he would be after the New Year, and that is a good thing to hear.

McDonnell will need to be at his very best, both physically and mentally, when he faces Kameda later this year.

He has fought some good fighters and come through some wars, but Kameda will be his best opponent to date.

Beat the Japanese star, and the dream continues. More unification fights are likely to follow and the chance to sweep the board at bantamweight.

Lose, and he will have to decide whether there is motivation in carrying on.

The crossroads await for the fighting pride of Hatfield and he needs to stroll right through them.