World champion Jamie McDonell returns to action this weekend on an intriguing card in Monte Carlo in Monaco.
When Jamie McDonnell last stepped in the ring, nearly a year ago, he was expected to come out a comfortable winner over the shorter and older Liborio Solis. But a very different story unfolded, as McDonell 29-2-1(13KO’s) barely held on to his WBA Bantamweight title in Monte Carlo, where he faces Solis 25-5-1(11KO’s) once again on Saturday night.
It is a knock against our sport then, that the decision in McDonnell’s favour was no surprise, even though almost all watching favoured the underdog, Solis.
It has led to a long wait for a return, but a wait that has seen neither fighter in a boxing ring.
Who that serves best is up for debate. Solis is 35, and having twice lost world title fights last year, may be rejuvenated with a long rest. But in contrast he is another year older, and smaller fighters rarely age as well as their heavier counterparts.
As for McDonnell, he is no spring chicken himself, and the year out was a year lost of arguably his prime years.
McDonnell is no stranger to return bouts, having already faced Tomoki Kameda in back-to-back 2015 victories. And much like in the case of this series with Solis, the first bout was tight, before McDonnell seemed to comfortably win the return.
He will be hoping that this return will have the same effects. While Solis will go to the work rate that won him a pair of world titles in 2013, and should have bagged in a world title in a second division last year.
Both can produce a high work rate that lasts well across the 12 round distance. And the likelihood is that we hear the final bell yet again this weekend.
Dave Coldwell should draw up a perfect game plan for McDonnell to frustrate Solis early, before breaking him down later on. But if McDonnell can stick to that plan is a different task in itself.
And with a fighter like Solis in front of you, it’s tougher said than done. Indeed, McDonnell will start off the back foot, but Solis will make rounds competitive enough to deny Jamie easing to an early lead.
With the contest in the balance after 8 rounds, McDonnell will have to change tactics, looking to push Solis back, while keeping the contest at mid-range, as opposed to in close, where the shorter Solis will thrive.
The final rounds will determine the winner, and with the judges split, we could be headed to another contentious decision either way.
But the pick is for McDonnell to once again leave Monaco with a tight win, this time via split decision. A quick tip to conclude, if you’re a betting man, don’t rule out a draw in this one.
On the undercard, expect Dmitry Bivol to make the biggest statement of the night as he breaks out with a crushing performance against Trent Broadhurst.
The pair have a common opponent, with Bivol halting Robert Berridge in 4, while Broadhurst was halted by the same man in 5 rounds.
Bivol 11-0(9KO’s) has already halted Cedric Agnew this year, and can claim the vacant WBA Light Heavyweight title with a knockout of Broadhurst 20-1(12KO’s) in 7 rounds.