Gavin McDonnell belongs at world level, says Tony Bellew

Ringside 25/06/2018

Lawrence Lustig

After enduring a difficult 2017, Gavin McDonnell was desperate to make amends this year. He reached for the stars against Rey Vargas last February with world honours on the line, but he fell short against the elite Mexican.

A few keep busy fights saw the Doncaster man shred ring rust and put things in place following detailed gym sessions under the tutelage of Dave Coldwell, and all that hard work was evident back in March when he easily outpointed touted prospect, Gamal Yafai in Sheffield.

Although earning wide plaudits for the comprehensive schooling he handed to the Birmingham starlet, McDonnell’s profile was not significantly raised and he headed into a last week’s showdown with former world champion, Stuart Hall, still determined to prove himself.

Another accomplished performance, a wide 12 round points victory, has got McDonnell dreaming of another world title opportunity, and Tony Bellew, Gavin’s gym-mate, feels his stable colleague deserves far more credit than he’s currently receiving.

“Look at the year Gavin has had so far. He’s been faultless,” insists Bellew when assessing the performances of McDonnell. “A lot of people had that fight with Yafai a real 50-50, but it’s a testament to the character and will of Gavin why he went in there that night and carried out the task in such a manner.

“Believe me, Yafai is an outstanding young fighter and Gavin went in there and made it look easy at times. The Vargas fight last year was perhaps a step too far at that very moment, but he’s learnt his lessons and the improvements have been unbelievable.”

Bellew added, “It’s now the time that Gavin has to move on from domestic and European level now because there’s no doubt that he belongs at world level. You’ll find it hard to find a domestic fighter with two better wins than Gavin this year, but it’s the way that he’s been winning.

Yafai was a big favourite and Hall knows his way around, but Gavin went in with both and barely lost a round. That’s when you know a fighter has outgrown a certain level. It’d be a massive shame if he doesn’t fight for a world crown this year because he’s so capable and deserving of such a chance.”