JAMIE McDonnell enters the ring tonight safe in the knowledge that he will be backed by the whole of an expectant Doncaster.
But with the backing comes the pressure to perform on the big occasion and to break new ground. It is often brought up that the hopes for a first world champion lay solely in McDonnell’s super quick hands.
It is something that he is aware of but the 26-year-old does not allow the expectancy to take a stranglehold of his senses.
“To be in the history books would be some achievement but I try not to think about it but when I do it is a good feeling and I have to pinch myself but it doesn’t make me worry,” McDonnell told The Star.
“It’s not just my dream to be a world champion. It’s my trainer’s dream and all my family, friends and people that believe in me and when I’m pounding the streets with the ipod on; it’s what gets you through the tough camps.”
McDonnell has not painstakingly trawled through the records to see how close others have gone before him but is reminded regularly by trainers Stefy Bull and Dave Hulley, both students of the game. In truth, none have been all that close before but he does realise the significance in the fact that even at just 26 he is already considered to be better than the great names of the past.
Mark Epton went to the 1988 Olympics, British and Irish featherweight champion and overachiever Jon Jo Irwin and 1940s heavyweight colossus Bruce Woodcock - all great fighters in their own right, but none have been as far as McDonnell already has.
There is a stable of promising fighters emerging from all parts of Doncaster but McDonnell is the likeliest candidate to break new territory.
The Hatfield boxer, who faces Darwin Zamora tonight, admits: “I love fighting at the Dome and it remains my dream to fight at the Keepmoat and obviously that one will have to be a little bit further down the line ... maybe next summer.”
n Read Monday’s Star for McDonnell report and reaction.