Boxing: McDonnell back on top of world

Jamie McDonnell celebrates with his team and girlfriend Hollie Coombs
Jamie McDonnell celebrates with his team and girlfriend Hollie Coombs
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Doncaster’s greatest just got a little greater.

The town’s first ever boxing world champion is now a two time king following an explosive tenth-round knockout of tough Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat at Wembley Stadium.

Jamie McDonnell is back on top of the world after a turbulent year which started with the high of IBF world title glory but quickly descended into a nightmare of murky boxing politics which saw him stripped of his crown.

The dark days of last autumn were consigned to history with a huge - and somewhat surprising - left hook two minutes into the tenth round in the cavernous bowl of the national stadium.

As he claimed the WBA bantamweight title, McDonnell rewound the clock back a year when the prospect of huge paydays, title unification bouts and the stuff of dreams were about to become a reality.

McDonnell knows himself that in the grand scheme of things Saturday night was all about Carl Froch and George Groves, and a rivalry which had captivated a nation of boxing-lovers and novices alike.

While the 28-year-old’s stunning knockout of Na Rachawat may not have captured anything close to the headlines Froch’s sickening flattening of Groves did, McDonnell’s fight-ending shot is perhaps the bigger in terms of the pair’s respective future fortunes.

To a big audience McDonnell showed himself to be a master technician and tactician, but also an explosive fighter with the ability provide the off-the-seat moments.

Froch is plotting the best way to sign off a sensational career. Plans are being made to ensure McDonnell has a fantastic one of his own.

Let us not be mistaken, McDonnell was expected to lift the WBA strap on Saturday night. There are certainly more threatening foes at bantamweight to come.

But there is no doubt he was made to work for the win. And he showed once again that he has the ability to trouble anyone in the division.

Much had been made in the build-up of Na Rachawat’s limitations, the fighter being somewhat flat-footed, rather one dimensional.

But title contests have that tendency of bringing that bit more out of a fighter, world title fights to an even greater extent.

After a woefully anonymous first round from Na Rachawat, he grew into the fight. He walked McDonnell down, piled on the pressure and unleashed clubbing body shots with varying degrees of success.

But this was McDonnell as his tactical and disciplined best.

At his most comfortable, he did not allow himself to slip away from the blueprint. There were times he could have loaded up against Na Rachawat but instead three shots would fly and he would be out.

He fought a near-perfect fight, using his considerable height advantage to work from the jab at distance as well as covering up well when the fight came in close.

He could hardly have been more comfortable in a first round where his Thai foe barely landed a glove.

But Na Rachwat stepped up his efforts, forcing McDonnell firmly into a back-foot fight.

McDonnell operated superbly from there for the entire fight. His elbows remains tucked tight under his ribs, preventing the hard-hitting Na Rachawat from doing any damage.

And he produced sometimes stunning accuracy to ensure he took almost every round.

His jab repeatedly pierced the guard and he looked incredibly slick with combinations coming off the ropes to get him away from trouble.

A crisp right hook in the fourth was followed by a fine uppercut, among the first signs that he could perhaps complete a dismantling job.

McDonnell was cut in the third. A sparring wound opened up while a headbutt produced a different wound an inch across the brow but Na Rachawat landed nothing of note to worse either.

It was a game of control and McDonnell was winning by far.

Ironically, Na Rachawat seemed to be enjoying his best round in the tenth with McDonnell’s workrate dipping.

But, exactly two minutes in, that was all rendered meaningless as he was sent tumbling to the mat.

McDonnell side-stepped an advance and landed a plum left hook under the jaw bone and Na Rachawat was down courtesy of a ferocious shot which surprised both fighters in equal measure.

The game Thai fighter tried to stand but his legs had gone and referee Terry O’Connor waved off the fight.

McDonnell is back on top and with a smile firmly planted on his face.