By Thomas Lyons
When on paper a fight is tipped to be 50-50 and nip and tuck across the board, it’s hard to favour either fighter when picking a victor. Before former WBC world title challenger Gavin McDonnell and defending WBC International Super-Bantamweight champion Gamal Yafai squared off in Sheffield, the pundits and expert were divided as many are when a domestic clash like this one has people sitting on the fence for it. However, the sheer experience and ringcraft of Gavin McDonnell prevailed with the opening encounters very close to call with Yafai, one of three fighting brothers including current WBA Super Flyweight champion Kal who was sat at ringside urging him on, getting behind a snappy jab and catching McDonnell on the button a few times with him failing to keep a high guard to catch those shots.
As the fight progressed, much of it being toe to toe action in the centre of the ring, McDonnell got to grips with the pressure he was exerting early on and started to box sensibly, getting to the punches slightly sharper than his opponent. Yafai started to fall off the pace and lose the rounds with McDonnell showing his more established boxing ability on the backfoot, picking Yafai off.
With the closing rounds upon both boxers, it became apparent that McDonnell has gained a considerable, wide lead in the fight and just needed to maintain his composure and close the rounds out. That was the case and McDonnell cruised to a 116-112 (on two of the judges’ scorecards) and 117-113 deficit. The most important thing for Yafai is that this loss won’t determine his destiny and like any true champion they can bounce back from a defeat to the better man and show that they have plenty left to offer at the highest level.
McDonnell will be relieved to get another win and credible name on his resume and push towards getting within the mix at world level and rectify that loss to Rey Vargas in his first attempt at a version of the world title.