Oh brother: Doncaster’s Gavin McDonnell ‘stole the show’ on Kell Brook undercard

McDonnell executes his game plan against Yafai. Pic: Lawrence Lustig
McDonnell executes his game plan against Yafai. Pic: Lawrence Lustig
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Sheffield’s Ross Burkinshaw has had a healthy respect for Gavin McDonnell since the Doncaster man took him to the cleaners in 2013.

Then, the pair had been contesting the Central Area super bantamweight title - and McDonnell emerged the winner in just two rounds.

Burkinshaw, now retired, was ringside for the Kell Brook v Sergey Rabchenko fight last Saturday at Sheffield Arena.

He was thrilled at Kell’s stoppage, also in two rounds, but said he savoured McDonnell’s points win over previously unbeaten Gamal Yafai, a chief support 12-rounder.

“That fight stole the show for me” said Burkinshaw, who retired from the ring after his last fight in 2015.

“Gavin boxed out of his skin. He took Gamal to school. He took control of the fight after the first round and was brilliant. When he beat me I underestimated him and he took me to bits and wore me down.

“Since then Gavin has come on with every fight he’s had. He can read a fight like his twin Jamie can.

“The way he switched from body to head against Gamal made it the best fight on the Arena bill, in my book” said the former soldier. “It didn’t surprise me that he won, but the calibre of his boxing has just gone to a different level.

“He and Jamie attract critics, they don’t get enough credit, but people must see now how well they can box, now.

“Gavin deserves the limelight; he managed just about every part of that fight in the way he wanted, against an unbeaten fight who was full of confidence.

Gamal Yafai v Gavin McDonnell. Pic by Lawrence Lustig

Gamal Yafai v Gavin McDonnell. Pic by Lawrence Lustig

“The art of boxing is about hitting and not getting hit and he did that with that wide stance and rangey style. He makes the best of his natural ability and size - his height and reach are quite a weapon. He is naturally gifted. I take my hat off to him. People are even saying he’s even better than Jamie!”

Burkinshaw, who runs a gym in Richmond Park Road, Handsworth, said he was pleased to see Brook make such an explosive start to his light middleweight career.

“Kell needed that confidence boost after his last two losses. Rabchenko looked like an old man in comparison and Kell did what he needed to do quickly.

“His much-discussed fight with Amir Khan just has to happen. “Yes, Kell probably wants it more than Amir.

Kell Brook celebrates

Kell Brook celebrates

“But can Amir retire eventually and then have people saying to him for the rest of his life: ‘Why didn’t you fight Kell Brook?’”

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Ross Burkinshaw admits he backed the wrong horse in The Battle of Rotherham.

The former boxer thought Lee Appleyard would have too much for Atif Shafiq in the lightweight collision at Sheffield Arena, another absorbing undercard fight on the Kell Brook show.

“Lee has come on loads and I thought he’d overwhelm Atif” he said.

Instead, Ingle man Shafiq ended the fight in round five.

Ross Burkinshaw in his fighting days

Ross Burkinshaw in his fighting days

“Atif played it just right, he was very elusive when he needed to be and then caught Lee with the right shots., both upstairs and downstairs.”

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