Cracking performance from Gavin McDonnell secures win over Gamal Yafai
Inflicting a first defeat on Gamal Yafai, the Doncaster man’s superior fitness showed over 12 tough rounds.
While the first half of the fight was super-close, McDonnell seized the initiative to take the belt.
It had seemed McDonnell would have his hands full against the talented favourite, in the opening round.
Birmingham’s unbeaten Yafai, smaller but a polished puncher, shaded the early action.
The Dave Coldwell and Stefi Bull-handled McDonnell, who lost a shot at the WBC world title to Rey Vargas last year, started to build on some impressive spells though.
Yafai, with a shake of the head, seemed to dismiss McDonnell’s growing influence - but it was the local man who was holding court in the centre of the ring.
When the middle of the fight arrived, neither fighter was really in charge.
Yafai was throwing plenty of shots, but many of them were missing the target.
And in the final seconds of round six, McDonnell seemed to momentarily wobble his opponent.
Yafai slipped again towards the ropes as McDonnell tried to build on his momentum.
Neither fighter wanted to make a backward step.
South Yorkshire’s 31-year-old former British and European champion started to get the cleaner shots in, though.
Yafai tumbled over in round ten and visibly started to tire.
McDonnell landed some cracking shots - he perhaps sensed the misfiring Brummie had nothing left in the tank.
Yafai was pinned in the corner, and then fell again in the 11th round; nothing was going right for him.
In the final three minutes, McDonnell continued to dictate, all the way to the 116-112, 116-112, 117-113 points decision.
The new champion said he felt he had plenty left in the tank and had known he would be on a different level to Yafai.
Experience, strength and skill had told, he said.
Trainer Coldwell said not everyone rated Gavin or his twin Jamie, but they both deserved what they had achieved.