McDonnell retains title dream
Jamie McDonnell fights in Sheffield on Saturday night knowing he is still on course for a shot at a world title.
His opponent may have changed but Doncaster bantamweight McDonnell is unfazed.
The 26-year-old was initially due to face Vusi Malinga as chief support to fellow Yorkshireman Kell Brook, but the duo's planned IBF bantamweight title eliminator was called off when the South African withdrew with an unknown injury.
It initially looked as though McDonnell would instead have to settle for a regulation 12-rounder against an underprepared stand-in but, fortunately for him and his aspirations, promoter Eddie Hearn secured Darwin Zamora, a southpaw from Nicaragua, to fill the void under the same eliminator terms.
"It has been playing on my mind that the fight might get changed to a 12-rounder and that would have been disheartening," McDonnell said.
"Fortunately, we worked all weekend to get a replacement, it's still a title eliminator and my dream is alive."
McDonnell can hardly complain of being overworked in the last 12 months, with his only workout being a second-round stoppage of Ivan Pozo in Sheffield in March.
He knows a busier schedule may well lie ahead should he win on Saturday, though, as he lines up a title bout with current holder Leo Santa Cruz.
"Hopefully he won't move up a division and I would get the chance to fight him," McDonnell, who has a record of 19(8)-2-1 added.
"But people are struggling with the weight at this division and that leaves things wide open, which is why I 100 per cent believe that I will be a world champion."
Having to prepare for a new opponent at such short notice was hardly ideal for McDonnell, who is still in the dark about Malinga's no-show.
However, he believes his willingness to get into a scrap with anyone at any time will ensure he is good to go on Saturday.
"Vusi pulled out, I'm not sure why, I get that all the time, it's the game we're in," he said.
"Zamora has fought 21 and knocked 18 out, I can't take this guy lightly. I think I am the best but I have to prove it.
"It plays with your mind a little bit when people pull out, but he's a southpaw, Vusi was a southpaw and training has gone perfectly. I'm fit and ready and if I want to be a world champion I've got to fight whoever is put in there."