O’Donnell’s welter-skelter ride is over

PUBLISHED: 06:54 24 February 2011



GERARD FARRELL / DZ PICTURES; TEL: 0044-7831-396-923

JOHN O’Donnell has abandoned his career at welterweight after a sluggish performance in his British title defeat by Craig Watson at Wembley Arena.

The former Commonwealth champion looked below par in Saturday’s clash for the vacant British belt as Watson gained a unanimous points victory – and revenge for his loss to O’Donnell two years ago.

Although O’Donnell has vowed he will never box in the 10st division again after struggling to cope with the weight, he has not given up hope of facing Watson for a third time – at light-middleweight.

“It’s been hard for quite a while and I have to realise I can’t do welterweight any more,” O’Donnell told the Times. “I knew after the third round – the energy levels weren’t what I normally show in my fights.

“I was literally fighting a losing battle – I felt I did well to get to 12 rounds and make a decent fight of it. Credit to Craig Watson, the better man won it on the night and I wish him all the best.

“I’m not too down about it and I’ve got no regrets because I’d waited so long and worked so hard for my chance at the British title.

“I knew what I needed to do, I just couldn’t pull it out of the bag and that was very frustrating for me and my trainer.

“Now I’m going to chill out for a couple of months, eat and drink what I want and let my body recover. Then I’m going to train at light-middleweight – although, to be honest, even that might be a bit of a push!

“Craig holds the British belt at light-middleweight and it’d be nice to go for that with him, or maybe for the Commonwealth title. The two fights we’ve had so far have been good ones and everyone enjoyed them – so why not?”

The Shepherd’s Bush southpaw had only suffered one previous defeat in 25 outings, but he rarely looked like repeating his 2009 success over Watson, who caught him several times with the jab early on.

But Watson began to throw and miss as O’Donnell came back into the fight in the middle rounds, landing a couple of left hooks that seemed to sting the Mancunian.

Those were rare successes, though, and it was significant that the large Irish contingent were soon drowned out by Watson’s band of supporters, sensing their man was on course to seize the title.

Watson’s jab began to pierce O’Donnell’s defence again in the later rounds and, while the 25-year-old finished well, it was nothing like enough to save him from a 117-112, 116-112, 116-113 reverse on the judges’ scorecard.

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