Jamie McDonnell admits he is feeling the pressure ahead of tonight’s first defence of his WBA bantamweight crown.
It is not a pressure to impress, the weight of a place on a huge night of boxing nor the simple desire to remain a world champion that has the Hatfield fighter feeling the heat.
A fight – and purse – which the 28-year-old describes as ‘life-changing’ awaits early next year, if McDonnell sees off the challenge of Javier Chacon in Liverpool tonight.
Beat Chacon and the two-time world champion will be heading to Las Vegas to fight WBO champion Tomoki Kameda in a big-money unification fight early next year.
Newly-married and the dad of a month-old baby girl, McDonnell knows he can be in a position to make life comfortable for his family for years to come as long as he does not blow it this weekend.
“I feel pressure on this fight, not just with the big night on pay-per-view but with what’s at stake after it,” McDonnell said. “It’s life-changing. I can pay my house off.
“I’ve thought about what I’ll be able to do. I won’t have to go grafting my backside off.
“But you start thinking about what happens if I don’t win on Saturday. My house wouldn’t be paid off so I’d have to be working for at least another 20 years to pay it off.
“This could make life that bit easier. I can go back plastering self-employed and do the jobs I want when I want.
“I’ve just had a baby. You have to plan a bit. I’m not doing it for myself any more, it’s for the family.
“That’s the pressure you really feel but I’m good under pressure. It brings out the best in me.”
McDonnell will take his place on a blockbuster card at the Echo Arena – headlined by the rematch between Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverley – to defend his title against Argentina’s Chacon who was switched into the fight at late notice on Monday due to visa issues for scheduled opponent Walberto Ramos.
As a world champion – and particularly one carrying a WBA ‘regular’ title – McDonnell knows he will be under close scrutiny to perform and perform well in the intense spotlight of Saturday’s show.
But he insists victory is his one and only goal.
He said: “Eddie Hearn (promoter) says I’ve got to try and perform as well and look good.
“Kameda fought the other week and didn’t look that great so it’d send out a little message if I could dust this kid.
“But I just want to win at the end of the day.
“Kameda got his win, he did what he needed to do and that’s what I’ve got to do.
“If I can look good doing it, it’ll put a statement out there.”
New opponent Chacon has won 20 of his 22 fights and took WBA ‘super’ champion Anselmo Moreno the distance in March, albeit suffering a one-sided points defeat.
The Moreno defeat was his first fight outside his native Argentina.