JAMIE McDonnell has pledged to ‘knuckle down’ after securing a dream shot at the IBF world bantamweight title, writes Liam Hoden.
McDonnell stopped the tough Darwin Zamora in a final eliminator in Sheffield last weekend to set up a challenge for the title currently held by Mexican king Leo Santa Cruz.
The Hatfield bantamweight admits he has enjoyed the party lifestyle in the past, particularly over this summer which saw upheaval in his personal life.
But he is determined to do everything he can to make sure he is as ready as possible for his title tilt.
He told the Free Press: “This is an unbelievable opportunity for me and there’s no way that I’m going to give it up.
“I probably wasn’t 100 per cent focussed on the Zamora fight until the last couple of weeks of the camp.
“I’m going to go on holiday and chill out for a couple of weeks but after that I’ll be in the gym all the time.
“This is my dream and I don’t want to have any regrets when it comes around.”
McDonnell does not expect his world title bout to take place before Christmas and has predicted March as a potential date.
The 26-year-old went to hospital following the Zamora fight complaining of a headache but was quickly given the all clear by doctors.
He said: “Everything was alright thankfully, they just sent me away with a few paracetamol.
“The kid could really hit, you could see why he’s knocked so many out at super flyweight.
“It gave me a bit of a wake-up call about how hard the big bantamweight’s are going to be hitting.
“But I think he will have felt my shots more than I did his.”
McDonnell admitted he loved his first step on the big stage at Sheffield Arena.
“That’s definitely where you want to be,” he said.
“I was absolutely buzzing – I didn’t want to get out of the ring.”