South Yorkshire boxing: Can Ross upset pecking order?

Gavin McDonnell - can he beat Sheffield's Ross Burkinshaw?
Gavin McDonnell - can he beat Sheffield's Ross Burkinshaw?
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Sheffield trainer Glyn Rhodes has warned his Doncaster ‘derby’ rivals not to count their chickens before they hatch.

Rhodes has trained Ross Burkinshaw for tonight’s Central Area super bantamweight title match with Dunscroft’s Gavin McDonnell at Doncaster Dome.

McDonnell is favourite. His manager Stefy Bull said: “He’s got a lot of determination to succeed and I think he’s set for big things.”

There has even been talk of a shot at the Commonwealth title for the 27 year old later this year.

But Rhodes said: “It was only last year that Gavin boxed a kid that wasn’t up to much and really struggled” - a reference to a draw with Northampton’s Ashley Lane.

“Nobody should take anything for granted because this is a 50-50 fight. Ross has trained harder for this than any other fight I can remember. He knows he has got to beat him or his career will be at a crossroads. He’s knuckled down and had long enough to prepare. He is 26 and has matured into a better boxer. He used to ignore me when I told him to keep moving his head - he was gung ho because he was so determined to get stuck in. But he says he is listening now.”

McDonnell, meanwhile, admits he has changed his lifestyle since starting an ascent up the rankings. He says his ‘lightbulb moment’ came during celebrations which followed brother Jamie’s European title win in 2010. “We were out drinking in France after our kid won the title and I said to everyone I was going to give boxing a go” McDonnell said. “They thought I was joking. I was about 11 and a half stone then and loved a pint. But I thought, why not? I can do this. Even when I turned up at the gym, I don’t think people thought I’d hack it.”

Bull said: “You could tell early on that Gav was a sponge. He took everything in and applied it. There’s a lot of natural talent there but he’s a very good student as well.”

John Fewkes, who fights Mansfield’s Dale Miles on tonight’s bill was just a couple of ounces over the 10st 8lbs limit yesterday and is raring to go, said Rhodes. “He’s looking good, as is Sam Sheedy, who really has come on recently.”

Rhodes says he continues to hope that unbeaten Adam Etches will box his own middleweight Jez Wilson, soon. “I hear Adam is fighting an Italian, soon. Why not fight another lad from Sheffield? The city’s fans would love it!”