Jamie McDonnell’s rise to the world level may be impressive but opponent Julio Ceja truly has clawed his way up from the bottom.
The 20-year-old belied his reputation as a fierce knockout king when he spoke to the Free Press this week.
Soft spoken, a little shy and respectful, Ceja revealed all about his humble background.
He admits he turned professional at the tender age of 16 simply to make money for his ‘very poor’ family.
“I come from a very poor family from the outskirts of Mexico City,” Ceja said.
“I have six brothers. We have all had to work very hard to get by in life because of our humble background.
“My family had a tortilla store so me and my brothers would work selling tortillas.
“I was 16-years-old when I turned professional and I did it to make money for my family.
“That was the main reason. I knew boxers made money so that’s why I did it.”
None of Ceja’s family have travelled to Doncaster to support him as they are unable to afford the trip.
The unbeaten Mexican was introduced to the sport by his father, a former amateur fighter.
As a young amateur, Ceja won 43 of his 50 fights and won the Golden Gloves in 2008.
Ceja’s older brother Luis is a former world light flyweight title contender.
Ceja says his phenomenal punching power – which has seen him stop 22 of his 24 opponents – is not inherited, just a natural attribute.
Despite his fantastic success with the big shots – something which has made him the bookies’ favourite for Saturday’s bout – Ceja says he never goes looking for the knockout in fights.
He said: “The hard punch is an advantage but I never fight looking for the KO.
“I like to start boxing, throwing punches, some waist movements.
“I’ll never underestimate any opponent but once I feel I’ve hurt them, I go in.”
There is little doubt McDonnell will have to be at his very best on Saturday.