Boxing: Great Gav hits the big time

Gavin McDonnell v Josh Wale. Picture: Ian Lyall
Gavin McDonnell v Josh Wale. Picture: Ian Lyall
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Transforming from beer-loving jack the lad to British title contender in three years isn’t a bad journey.

Gavin McDonnell demonstrated exactly how far he has come as he secured a shot at Kid Galahad’s British super bantamweight crown with a convincing points win over Josh Wale.

The 27-year-old was a class act as he bossed a contest with his Barnsley rival who has already stood on the big stage.

The blood and thunder local derby clash never really emerged which resulted in a rather tempered atmosphere at the Dome.

This was entirely down to McDonnell’s control of the fight which rarely abated from the opening bell.

If he were to perform in a similar manner in a potential title showdown, he would give the much-lauded Galahad a real run for his money.

McDonnell’s accuracy was stunning at times, his combination work strong.

But the most pleasing aspect of his approach was the intelligence behind it.

The only times Wale was forced into an early night came from bad cuts and it was clear he was not going to be shifted before the 12 rounds were up this time.

He took whatever was thrown and kept on coming, showing incredible resolve.

To his credit, McDonnell never showed signs of frustration or impatience, instead maintaining a steady amount of effort throughout.

By the end of the fourth round it became apparent that Wale would need something very special wrestle control of the bout.

The Brampton-Bierlow ace was not kept quiet all the time, producing a strong response in the fifth and sixth to punish sloppiness from McDonnell with the first real outing for his fast hands.

In the fifth he produced two of the most eye-catching shots of the contest and smart combinations led to his best round in the sixth.

But ultimately, this was as tame as Wale has looked inside a boxing ring.

He needed some of the animalistic style that characterised his early career but it never emerged. Standing and boxing McDonnell did not work because the Dunscroft fighter showed he had the superior skills.

Wale’s brow was cut in the seventh but was not worsened in the later rounds. We were here for the long haul.

McDonnell re-established control following the middle rounds, putting a little more pressure on the gas pedal to make the simple stuff count.

Wale halted the upward curve of his opponent in the tenth with a strong showing.

Both men excelled in the last round, incredibly so after more than half an hour of intense action.

The two fighters went for broke to ensure they left it all in the ring. But Wale could not do enough to render what had come before as inconsequential.

An expected unanimous decision arrived (119-111, 118-111, 117-113), anointing McDonnell as the next British title contender.