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Jamie McDonnell: ‘I don’t even know Inoue’s first name’

Jamie McDonnell (left) fights Naoya Inoue (right) on May 25.
Fighters Network

If you show Jamie McDonnell the money and the opponent provides ample motivation, he’ll fight anyone. That has been the Englishman’s mantra since he broke through at world level five years ago.

On May 25, the 31-year-old technician will display his fighting guts once again when he climbs the ring steps in Tokyo to face unbeaten two-weight world titleholder Naoya Inoue, who will be making his bantamweight debut.

McDonnell, who is rated No. 2 by THE RING at 118 pounds, is accustomed to pulling surprises. He won the vacant IBF title by upsetting the previously unbeaten Julio Ceja in 2013 and twice outpointed the heavily-favored Tomoki Kameda in Texas two years later.

What’s interesting about McDonnell is that he’s a fighter with an in-built self-defense mechanism which makes him impossible to intimidate. It’s nothing elaborate, he just isn’t a fight fan. The Doncaster man once sat in the company of boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard and was completely oblivious.

“I don’t even know Inoue’s first name,” said McDonnell in an interview with “I was told he was the next best thing out of Japan. I was told roughly what money was available. I was told he was a two-weight world champion who wants to be a three-weight world champion. I just said, ‘Yes, that’s the perfect fight’.

“This is Kameda all over again. The money’s good, but this one isn’t about the money. It’s another chance for me to prove myself. This is a chance to get some recognition. My brother (former world title challenger Gavin McDonnell) was in the gym with me when the fight was suggested and said, ‘He’s good, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.’”

With the fight confirmed for Ota-City General Gymnasium, McDonnell (29-2-1, 13 knockouts) has now completed some reconnaissance on Inoue.

“He’s vicious and he’s spiteful, but he’s hardly been taking on superstars,” said McDonnell, who is unbeaten over the last decade. “I believe I’ll be too big and strong, and I think I can look good against him.

“Why are people scared of him? There’s nothing to be scared of. Anyone can hit you and knock you out – it’s boxing. Ceja was a banger. Kameda had knocked out 18 of 31. These unbeaten punchers are always the next best thing. He’s got two arms, two legs and we’ll weigh the same.

“I genuinely believe I’m the best bantamweight in the world. I’ll go in there with anyone and it doesn’t matter where it is – a ring is a ring. I’m going to train my arse off, go to Japan and absolutely smash it. I don’t think he’ll hit hard enough to hurt me and I’ve seen it all before. I’m absolutely buzzing for this.”

McDonnell knows this is a monster task and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Editor’s note: McDonnell will defend a version of the WBA bantamweight title which is unrecognized by THE RING. Ryan Burnett is the current WBA champion at 118 pounds.


Tom Gray is Associate Editor for THE RING. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing


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