Big Fight Preview: Jamie McDonnell aims to set the record straight in Liborio Solis rematch

Jamie McDonnell
Jamie McDonnell

Jamie McDonnell is as laid back as it gets when it comes to boxing.

This is a man who, despite reaching the elite of the sport, does not obsess about boxing. He admits openly that he is not exactly a fan of it.

He shook off the bitter disappointment of having a world title stripped from him as politics impacted on his career.

And even away from the sport, he is incredibly easy-going, always up for a laugh.

So when he says a situation has got him down, you can take him at his word.

For McDonnell, that situation is the reaction to his victory in Monte Carlo last year against Liborio Solis – the man who he will face in a rematch on Saturday night, again in Monaco.

The Hatfield fighter retained his WBA bantamweight title with a comfortable unanimous points victory.

But that decision sparked a vitriolic response, with many saying Solis should have got the win.

It started immediately after he stepped out of the ring. As he left the ring for a live TV interview, pundit Johnny Nelson greeted McDonnell by saying ‘you were lucky there mate.’

And it has continued for the last 51 weeks. It will not stop until the first bell on Saturday night when McDonnell and Solis meet again, eight days shy of a full year since the first clash.

The jibes and questions have weighed heavy on the affable world champion.

“It’s really got me down at times over the past year,” he said. “It’s really eaten away at me.

“I’ve had so much stick over that fight and it’s really hard not to let that get to you.

“There wasn’t a massive amount I could do about it.

“I went in there and didn’t perform anywhere near my best. I know that. But the judges’ scoring didn’t have anything to do with me.

“And I’ve wanted the rematch all along. It’s not something I’ve run away from.

“I’ve wanted to put it right since the first fight. It’s taken a long time to get it on but we’re here now and it’s time to set the record straight.

“That’s all I can do now and it’s put a real fire in my belly.”

McDonnell is pretty open about the fact he took Solis lightly. He underestimated a fighter who had never competed outside Latin America and had lost four of his previous 24 bouts.

“I can tell you now that I didn’t take the fight seriously,” he said.

“I thought it was a routine defence, that I’d go in, get the job done with little fuss, get out of there and move onto bigger and better things.

“It was tougher than I expected but I never for one second thought I was losing the fight.

“But I know I could have done so much better. I sat on the ropes too much, let him come at me.

“I won’t make the same mistakes again.

“That might have been the best Liborio Solis. I don’t know.

“But I’ve prepared for one that’s a lot better than that.

“Whatever Solis turns up, I’m in there to do a proper job on him.

“I’m in there to beat him and look good doing it. I want to put on a proper show and impress people.

“I’m going to put the other fight to bed and move on.”