O’Donnell determined to seize title chance

PUBLISHED: 15:52 01 December 2010

John O'Donnell

John O'Donnell

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JOHN O’Donnell will finally get his chance to claim the British welterweight championship when he squares up to old rival Craig Watson in February.

The Shepherd’s Bush star defeated Watson on a split decision for the Commonwealth belt back in April 2009 – and the pair must meet again after the boxing authorities ordered a rematch for the British title.

The fight will take place on February 5, 2011, probably back at the York Hall venue where O’Donnell snatched the Commonwealth title from his rival.

“I’ve waited long enough to get my crack at the British title and I didn’t care who it was against,” O’Donnell told the Times. “I just want that title and I’m looking forward to showing what I can do.

“I haven’t seen much of Watson since we boxed 19 months ago – from what I hear he’s beaten what was in front of him. But I feel I’ve improved a great deal in that time.

“He did a bit of mouthing off after I beat him for the Commonwealth title, but I’m going to prove there was no mistake – what I did last time, I’m going to do again.”

Since beating Watson, the former Dale Youth amateur has endured an exasperating 20 months, in which he made a short-lived switch to light-welterweight, gave up the Commonwealth belt and saw his hopes of an earlier British title shot scuppered by injury.

O’Donnell had been due to face champion Michael Jennings last summer, but had to pull out with a back problem and Jennings went on to lose the title to Kell Brook in September.

But Brook opted to give up the belt and fight Ghana’s Philip Kotey for the WBO inter-continental title later this month instead, opening the door for O’Donnell to realise his dream.

“It’s been frustrating since the last time I boxed Watson,” admitted the 25-year-old southpaw. “Things went a bit slow and I got down to 10st 1lb and a bit, but my body didn’t agree with it.

“Then it was a big disappointment not to fight Jennings, but I had a back problem that just got in the way of training and put me back a couple of weeks, so it wasn’t to be.

“But I had a good fight against Terrence Cauthen a couple of months ago and that showed me I’d come on leaps and bounds. We were trying to get another one this month, but that didn’t happen.

“So it will have been four and a half months or so by the time I fight Watson and that should be perfect. We’ll get it on in February and hopefully everything goes according to plan.”

O’Donnell’s points victory over Cauthen took his professional record to 24 wins from 25 fights, marred only by his second-round defeat against Christian Solano in Las Vegas in 2007.

Watson, meanwhile, has won all six of his outings since the O’Donnell loss and stepped up to light-middleweight to collect the Commonwealth title in that division earlier this year.

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