Gavin McDonnell: “I Am Still In It For The Glory”

Gavin McDonnell: “I Am Still In It For The Glory”

The world and life itself stopped turning in March, the pause button was pressed on so many things, sport included. Without a gym, the normal routine, professional athletes had to adapt as best as they could. Gavin McDonnell made the best of it, and was luckier than most:

“For me, I enjoyed my training, the biking the running, for me it’s not training. So I just went on longer bike rides, longer runs in lockdown. Everyone was a little scared, nobody could really leave the house, but when I did I just trained, it wasn’t as though I was with anyone. So for me, it wasn’t too bad other than the scary side of it all, but the training side of it was ok. I’ve got my garage which I kitted out with a bag and everything, I was just busy with what I normally do.”

Doncaster’s McDonnell a two-time world title challenger at super-bantamweight, like his twin brother Jamie, is back on the site plastering, back doing his other trade:

“Boxing has been very good to me and our kid, we had a lot of people who supported us, backed us, sponsored us both. Boxing was always first and foremost for us, but obviously since we got beat people have fallen by the wayside. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate everyone who has done things for us. When you are winning everyone wants to know you, but the good thing is we both have a trade behind us. We are both as good at plastering as we are at the boxing. We are never short of work we are just waiting for boxing to pick back up again.”

There is nothing big time about McDonnell, a realist, down to earth, knowing full well boxing won’t last forever. Even at the height of his career McDonnell and his brother would join their colleagues on the sites, much to the amusement and bewilderment of his fellow workers:

“Our kid would defend his world title on the Saturday, then on the Monday he would be on the site with me. The lads would say what you doing here, but we are just normal people we enjoy the boxing and we enjoy the work to. At the moment it’s not a choice, if we don’t go to work we don’t earn. Until things pick up and the big fights are there again we will keep doing the plastering. I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong I appreciate what boxing has done for me and I do think there are a couple of big nights left for me and that’s what we are aiming for.”

McDonnell is a compulsive trainer and even though his boxing career is winding down, the training will not:

“If I get bored I will just go out for a run or get on my bike, to me its not training. Even when I finish boxing I will still do some sport after I have retired, I will still be in the gym training, I just love training.”

Stefy Bull’s gym is currently a hotbed of talent with current unified world champion Terri Harper at the helm and inspiring the rest of the team. But despite fight dates currently being limited, the learning goes on:

“Terri is leading the way at the minute in our gym, but there is me and our kid as well and the others. There are about 9 or 10 of us down there now every day, we just enjoy it even now when nobody has really got a fight lined up. There is talk of some fights but nothing confirmed yet. But we are all just enjoying it, there is not as much pressure. We are just ticking along with sparring and we are still learning off each other and just waiting for a date.”

Before lockdown, McDonnell had another European title opportunity lined up, this time at featherweight, and the chance to become a two-weight European champion, but that might not now happen until next year:

“There is talk of the European title shot still, and we were looking at between October and December for it. But I think they want a little run out first so we don’t know if it will go on now. I’m 34, I haven’t got a year or so just to let go by I haven’t got time on my side.”

After a hugely successful career in boxing, McDonnell knows the clock is ticking on his life in boxing and he doesn’t want to be one of the many who has one fight too many. McDonnell fights not for the money, but for titles and the opportunity to leave his sport on a high and on top:

“I am still in it for the glory, not to pick up a few quid here and there. We’ve got this European title fight and I know for sure I am going to win it, but I have to take one fight at a time whenever it happens. I’ve told Stefy that when I win the European title I might retire there and then and finish on a high. To me winning and finishing like that is important, but who knows if I look and feel a million dollars I might carry on, I just want to take one fight at a time like I say.”

McDonnell is one of those fighters that seemingly has been around forever. But despite his age, there have only been 26 fights and only two defeats, both in world title fights, he doesn’t have the look of an ‘old’ fighter in the boxing sense. A forgotten fighter in many ways, his hope of leaving the sport on a high is a more than realistic possibility.

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