Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Gavin McDonnell-Rey Vargas fight for vacant WBC title

Gavin McDonnell will challenge for his first world title. Photo: Lawrence Lustig

Gavin McDonnell can make British boxing history when he takes on Rey Vargas for the vacant WBC junior featherweight title in Hull, England, on Feb. 25.

McDonnell’s twin brother, Jamie, holds the WBA “regular” title at bantamweight and is currently ranked No. 1 by THE RING in that division. (Editor’s Note: THE RING does not recognize the WBA “regular” title held by Jamie McDonnell. Rau’shee Warren is the WBA titleholder at 118 pounds.) Now Gavin (16-0-2, 4 knockouts) is looking to put his own name in the history books, although he will need the performance of his life to overcome the unbeaten Mexican.

The 26-year-old Vargas (28-0, 22 KOs) is ranked No. 1 by the WBC and has the reputation of being a devastating puncher. McDonnell, the WBC’s No. 2-ranked junior featherweight, however, remains confident that he can claim the belt, which was left vacant following the retirement of Hozumi Hasegawa.

“I have to pinch myself that it’s finally here,” said McDonnell. “All the hard work I’ve put in over the years, it feels like it’s meant to be – this moment.

“I have seen my brother become world champion. I have seen my gym-mate (WBC cruiserweight titlist) Tony Bellew become world champion. I believe I’m ready and to be let off the leash. I’m ready to become world champion. Two twin brothers on the scene, both world champions standing side-by-side.”

McDonnell continued, “Vargas’ record says that he’s a big puncher but we won’t know how good he is until we get in there. How much does he want it? Not more than me. He will have to knock me out cold to win it, as he can’t beat me.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn said, “This is a huge opportunity for Gavin McDonnell to win the first world title of 2017 and also create some special history for British boxing. Vargas is an excellent fighter but I believe we can create an electric atmosphere in the Hull Arena that can raise his levels to win this.”

A packed undercard will also see hometown Olympic hero Luke Campbell move closer to a summer world title shot when he meets Jairo Lopez at lightweight.

Tom Gray is a U.K. Correspondent/Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Gray_Boxing.

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