Eddie Hearn tips Gavin McDonnell for surprise stoppage in WBC title clash

Promoter Eddie Hearn says he has a 'funny feeling' Gavin McDonnell will stop opponent Rey Vargas tonight to become WBC champion.

Friday, 24th February 2017, 21:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:50 am
Gavin McDonnell. Picture: Mark Robinson

McDonnell faces the rated Mexican in Hull for the vacant WBC super bantamweight title, heading in as the underdog.

But Hearn believes the Doncaster fighter can come away with the gold, as long as he does not get caught up in the occasion.

"People have been talking to me about what we've got coming up with Haye-Bellew, Joshua-Klitschko but I'm quite a bit more excited about this because it's an incredible story," Matchroom Boxing chief Hearn said.

"Stories don't win world titles.

"But I honestly believe everything he's been working on, all the skill he has been developing, mixed in with the atmosphere and the moment, I've just got a funny feeling he's going to stop him.

"It's a tough fight.

"We've got to kind of move away from the story and talk about him being a world class fighter.

"You cannot get in there and think 'I'm fighting for a world title, look at the support, the national anthem' and the bell goes and you're all over the place,

"It's so important to stay in the moment."

At Thursday's press conference ahead of the fight, Hearn commented on how relaxed McDonnell looked - a world away from his first taste of the big time and Sky cameras three years ago.

Hearn said: "I remember when he had the Leigh Wood fight for the British title, he was shaking at the press conference and now he's relaxed, it's just another fight.

"We all know it's more than that of course but that's the mentality you've got to have.

"He's relaxed in front of the cameras. He's boxed on some huge shows.

"I don't think he'll be fazed by the Ice Arena, it's just whether he can handle Vargas, who is very good."

Much has been made of McDonnell's journey from novice to world title contender within six years, with many admitting their surprise at his achievements.

But promoter Hearn says he has long been impressed by the 30-year-old.

He said: "I thought the Leigh Wood fight was a 50-50. He lost the first couple of rounds. He's generally a slow starter.

"And then he really impressed me with the way he came on.

"The one that really impressed me was the European title because he won every round in that fight against a kid who was supposed to be a very talented fighter.

"And also the Vusi Malinga fight. That was a fringe world title guy, a former world champion who was not what he was but very talented. Gavin did a job on him.

"Every fight has impressed me, apart from the last eight rounder which is one where you think how do you get up for that.

"He made one or two mistakes.

"But I think he's a real level-headed guy who won't make mistakes in the right environment when it means so much. I think he'll execute the right game plan.

"It's just whether he's good enough against Vargas. That is the only question."