McDonagh ready to stand his ground
JJ aims to be Last Man Standing
Mullingar fighter JJ McDonagh is the top-seeded fighter in tonight's 'Last Man Standing' competition at the National Stadium.
The 32-year old, a late addition to the line-up, hadn't fought in 2017. But six weeks ago he won a unanimous decision four-round fight in Tijuana and yesterday bullishly insisted he's "in great form for this".
"I asked Kaz (Evans, his manager at Assassin Promotions) if I could be in it from the start," explained J.J. "But he only decided at the last minute. I was to box a six-round fight on the show but fighters were pulling out because they wanted to protect their 0."
McDonagh's reputation for square-ring destruction (15-3, 7 KOs) precedes him.
In November 2016 he claimed the vacant WBA International light heavyweight title at Wembley Arena with a first-round stoppage of unbeaten Jason Ball.
Earlier in the year he'd lifted the Irish super middleweight belt with a win against Darren Cruise.
Yesterday, as he battled blizzard conditions in the midlands, JJ said: "I'd like to fight any Irish fighter in a ten or even eight-round fight. That would prove who's the better man. I'd take on any of them, Roy Sheahan, Chris Blaney, Luke Keeler, Spike O'Sullivan."
"There can be no favourites in this competition," he said referring to the Assassin Promotions' Last Man Standing initiative.
"With the fights being just three rounds, anything can happen. If you look at Prizefighter in Britain, there are big upsets. I wouldn't put big money on any one fighter to win this."
As he considered the competition's format, McDonagh mused: "In a way, this is like an amateur show. Lads who have a good amateur background might be expected to do well. But there'll definitely be a lot of surprises."
"Fellas will be walking into punches," he predicted. "Or running in with their heads and there'll be clashes and head cuts."
"It's like soccer," he continued. "If one side goes a goal behind, they need a goal and push everyone up and then get caught on the break."
JJ expects that tonight's action, which will be screened live on TG4, will be unpredictable.
"If this was a long-distance fight, you'd be comfortable losing a round or two," he said. "But because it's just three rounds, fellas will panic."
A seasoned pro, McDonagh is prepared for every eventuality.
"I'm in great form for this," he declared enthusiastically. "I've trained hard and I'm very fit.
"I was sparring six and seven rounds of fast, hard boxing with Paddy (his younger Irish light heavyweight champion brother) so my fitness levels are high.
"You definitely have to win the first round. That's my plan and then I'll relax a bit. If the knock-out chance comes, I'll take it."
A fighting man, McDonagh is not concerned about the opposition but conceded: "There are a few dark horses in this. I didn't check up on them.
"Some of the fighters I don't know about could do well. And some of those expected to do well, like Chris Blaney, could get beaten in the first round."