Gavin Still Gunning For Greatness – ESBR Speaks To Former World Title Challenger Gavin McDonnell

The dream is still not over for former world title contender, Gavin McDonnell. The Doncaster-born fighter may be reaching the twilight of his career but is hoping there will be a resurgence later this year that will catapult him up the rankings once again. Despite this being put on hold due to COVID-19, the drive and determination is definitely still present.

“I’m looking at having a European title fight in October, so it’s my last chance to see what we can do. It’s still a bit up in the air with everything that’s going on, but I’ll be fit and ready for whenever they do give the green light. It was originally scheduled for Bilbao in Spain, so I’m presuming it will be the same. We got it all sorted and I was about to start training camp and then all of this happened.

I just want to fight this side of Christmas, I know I’ve got the title fight, it’s there for me and signed. I’ve watched a few of his fights (Andoni Gago), and if I could pick a style for my opponent it would be him. He’s short and the best me beats him comfortably and looks good doing it.”

A European title can open doors to the major world title stage. This would be his second European title, after winning the super-bantamweight version in 2015 against Ukrainian Alexander Egorov.

“It will be nice to end the year as a two-time, two-weight European champion then next year we can really crack on. If I win that, then all of a sudden, I’m back in the mix. I’m really glad Stefy pushed and got me the mandatory shot, I’ll be going to Spain and ticking off another box.”

Training during the current global situation has been difficult and he has now restarted his training with his trainer and long-time manager, Stefy Bull.

“Its been the same for everyone but it has been a bit of a strange one. I’ve been out running, its just the boxing side which has suffered and been affected. I’ve still got bits done here and there but now its just a case of going through the motions before my next fight. I’ve now started back with my trainer, Stefy Bull and we can train full time. When I started back in was just one-to-one. Not knowing when I was going to fight meant I could just go back and enjoy it. We’ve really started to get the wheels back in motion ready for my last push.”

As well as this, the lockdown has also provided Gavin with motivation to be in big fights once again.

“All this has made me realise just how good those special nights are and how good it is when you’re winning. That’s what I want back, and I have the opportunity to do that. I want to fight anyone at world level or in the top 10 and they need to be a big name to get my juices flowing. There might be bigger domestic fights, but I will just take one fight at a time. Firstly, I’ve got to get this European title, which will be a nice end to an awful year for everyone.”

There are a number of benefits to your brother also being a top contender in the same sport. Over the years the pair have gone on their respective journeys together and to this day, should you step into Stefy’s gym, you will probably find them training together.

“My brother was at my house everyday and if we’d have wanted to, we could have knocked lumps out of each other in the garden. We really motivate and inspire each other. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be in boxing. We’ve trained together and travelled the world together. We lived the dream, getting paid and having those big nights alongside your brother, not many people can say that!”

Should McDonnell have his hand raised in Bilbao, other things still need to happen before he can get back onto the world stage. As is widely known, boxing politics can often get in the way of a fighter’s progression, and he is under no illusion that it is up to him to put the pressure on the top contenders.

“The featherweight world titles are wrapped up with the superstars and all that. They aren’t going to be wanting to fight people like me, they want unifications so it’s up to me to get myself in positions where they have to. Although getting in a mandatory position will probably take too long for the stage, I’m at in my career. So, I’m not really looking for those titles anymore, I’ve had those chances, now I just want the glory and the big fights.

I just want a couple of big moments, I’m not here to pinch a few pounds here and there. There will be nothing more satisfying than retiring on a win and choosing when that is, instead of going one fight too many. I’ve got a year or 18 months left in me, which will be around 3 big fights still.”