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Sunday 22 July 2018

McDonald on mission

Opportunity knocks for Dubliner on big stage

FACE-OFF: Jordan Gill and Carl McDonald weigh in at London’s O2 Arena yesterday.
FACE-OFF: Jordan Gill and Carl McDonald weigh in at London’s O2 Arena yesterday.

"I got a call on Tuesday asking if I'd fight on Saturday and I said, 'Yes, no problem'," explains Carl McDonald.

"I got confirmation of the fight on Thursday evening so I packed a bag and flew to London yesterday morning for the weigh-in," adds the Tallaght fighter. "I'm enjoying this. It's like the old days as an amateur when I'd take a fight at a day's notice."

McDonald is a cool customer.

A former intermediate champion when coached by the late Paddy Hyland, he's just hitting his stride as a professional.

Hesitate

McDonald is ­currently in ­training for a much-­anticipated BUI Celtic ­super bantamweight title fight against Colin O'Donovan on June 16.

He didn't hesitate when asked to step in against unbeaten UK star Jordan Gill (19-0, 4 KOs) on the undercard of tonight's Tony Bellew-David Haye re-match at The O2 Arena in London's docklands when Gill's opponent David Berna (15-3, 14 KOs) was forced to pull out at short notice.

"Opportunities like this don't come along very often," says McDonald's coach Eddie Hyland. "Carl's in great shape. He's motivated. I won't have to light a fire under his arse."

McDonald (3-1) certainly wasn't fazed by the Sky Sports cameras or the big-time ballyhoo surrounding yesterday's weigh-in. But might the Dubliner be nervous tonight?

"Of course not," he replied over lunch. "I've been fighting since I was twelve. This will be a big stage but it's just another ring and there's only one fighter in front of me. So as long as the referee doesn't start punching me, I'll be fine."

Guts

While you have to admire McDonald's guts stepping up to meet one of England's rising stars at such short notice, you must also factor in the potential rewards an eye-catching performance would bring.

"We've seen how Carl has been improving dramatically as a fighter," says Boxing Ireland promoter Leonard Gunning. "He has his goal and knows that a good display tonight will open doors for him."

"This is huge for Carl," says Eddie Hyland, who's too experienced to take anything for granted. "Gill is a very fast, clever boxer," he cautions. "But he hasn't fought anyone who will give him a fight like Carl. He has the ability to make it six rounds of hell for Gill."

McDonald isn't making any bold promises. He's in London to do a job. "I can stick it to him," he says confidently. "I'll stay on him and bring him into my kind of fight. The plan is to drag him into deep water and, as they say, drown him."

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