O’Donnell ready for Wembley showdown with Watson

PUBLISHED: 10:25 17 February 2011

John O'Donnell (Shepherd's Bush, red/white shorts) defeats Craig Watson (Manchester)

John O'Donnell (Shepherd's Bush, red/white shorts) defeats Craig Watson (Manchester)

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO, 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Tel: 0845 094 6026 -

JOHN O’Donnell is refusing to be drawn into a verbal scrap with Craig Watson as he prepares for the pair’s eagerly-anticipated rematch this weekend.

Watson has derided O’Donnell’s chances of repeating the split decision victory that saw the Shepherd’s Bush fighter seize his Commonwealth welterweight crown in 2009.

Likening O’Donnell to a ‘pencil’ in comparison with sparring partner Jamie Cox, Watson insisted that he would triumph when the duo clash for the vacant British title on Saturday at Wembley Arena.

Former Dale Youth ABC star O’Donnell told the Times: “It’s the fight we’ve all been looking forward to, there is a bit of needle surrounding it and Watson’s been doing a lot of talking.

“He’s done a lot of talking ever since our last fight, but I’m not bothered about that. I’ve got to go in and do what I did before and come away with the decision again.

“Last time I got drawn into his kind of fight and that’s not going to happen on Saturday. I’ve got my game plan and I’m more mature and experienced now.

“I can’t wait to get in the ring and obviously I’ll go in there prepared to do 12 rounds but, if the stoppage comes, that’s a bonus.

“I was the number one contender for the British title after my last fight with Watson and I’ve waited a long time for my chance – now I’m going to grab it with both hands.”

After wresting the Commonwealth belt from Watson, O’Donnell made just one defence before giving up the title last year in the hope of a shot at the British championship.

A back injury meant that the chance never materialised, but Kell Brook’s decision to vacate the British title triggered a second meeting between the top two contenders – O’Donnell and Watson.

While the 25-year-old southpaw is effectively on ‘home’ ground against his Mancunian opponent, he has never previously boxed at Wembley Arena.

One of the early outings in O’Donnell’s 25-fight professional career came at the adjacent Wembley Conference Centre – since demolished – and he recalled: “That was a good night.

“I’m looking forward to going back to Wembley and I’m sure it’ll be a brilliant atmosphere. A lot of the lads are coming down, including Ernie [Harris] and Mick [Delaney], the trainers from Dale Youth, so I’d like to think having home advantage will help.”

The showdown between O’Donnell and Watson headlines an attractive Hennessy Sports bill that also features Kilburn’s Ashley Theophane’s bid to take the British light-welterweight title from Lenny Daws.

Heavyweight Tyson Fury is also in action, along with Islington prospect John Ryder, Enfield’s Chris Evangelou and Lee Purdy, who defends his Southern Area welterweight belt against Michael Lomax.

Tickets are available from the Wembley Arena box office on 0844 815 0815, or you can visit

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