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JJ McDonagh happy to KO Ball again but targets middleweight clashes

by Conor Slater

Assassin Boxing fighter JJ McDonagh will make his long awaited return to the ring on July 23rd, at York Hall, under the banner of Tommy Dove`s Dove Box Promotions.

McDonagh will be looking to achieve just his first win of 2017, following on from a staggered start to the calendar year due to injury.

‘I’m fully focused on July 23rd and getting back into the ring. It has been a tough few months, but I am excited to get back.’

2016 was an emphatic year for McDonagh, who is the brother of Paddy, who recently defeated Stevie Collins Jr to reclaim The Irish title.

‘‘My brother Paddy did brilliant a few weeks back. It was a great effort by both Paddy and Stevie. Paddy needed a meaningful fight to get back into the swing of things. Stevie will learn a lot more in that fight than he will by knocking out journeymen. He has a good record. He can come again. However, I am very excited for what’s to come for Paddy, he’s still only 25.’

JJ McDonagh got his hands on his own Irish title back in April 2016, before going on to defeat Matchroom prospect, Jake Ball at Wembley Arena, in November. A 10/1 outsider, McDonagh dismantled Ball inside a round, to claim The WBA light-heavyweight title, in what was a ‘KO of the Year’ contender.

‘The plan was never to go to light-heavyweight. We got the call on four days notice, I was up at the light-heavyweight limit, and I believed I could win the fight. I have never turned down a fight’

Prior to their fight in November, on the undercard of Katie Taylor’s professional debut, Essex based promoter Eddie Hearn claimed that Jake Ball would not be good enough to move onto world level, if he could not defeat Mullingar’s McDonagh.

‘‘Don’t mind the lads he’s in with now, they’re journeymen. The only way his team will know if he’s good enough to progress is if he can beat me. Eddie Hearn said before the last fight that if he couldn’t beat me he couldn’t go on to challenge for world titles. He needs me.’’

The war of words continued after the fight as Hearn was quick to look for a rematch following Ball’s return to action in March. Ball and McDonagh have had their say over social media, although Ball recently spoke to Kugan Cassius of IFLTV, and was quick to ensure the audience that McDonagh needed him.

‘‘I saw Jake Ball’s interview with IFL TV saying he doesn’t need me and that he’ll bate the head off me. Listen, I don’t need to fight Jake Ball, I already beat him and made a balls of him. Every one of his opponents never tried to hit him, I said it before the last fight and told him that I would be different. Since he’s come back, the opponents have been the same. I may not have been training but it was no fluke. What I did was what I was meant to do.’’ McDonagh responded.

Frustrated at the lack of action since the pair clashed in November, McDonagh has faced the turmoil of injury, and of opponents pulling out of fights.

‘‘I don’t like mentioning names, but I have had opponents pull out over the last six months. I am a dangerous opponent and everyone saw that against Ball. I had an injury after Christmas, that’s delayed my comeback too. I’m really excited to get back amongst it on July 23rd.

Happy to campaign between middleweight and light-heavyweight, names already being touted are Luke Keeler and Martin Murray, however, McDonagh knows the Ball rematch will always be there.

‘‘If he wants the fight all he has to do is pick up the phone and I’ll be delighted to bate the head off him again. I’ll always be able to knock him out. I just hope he can give over the talking; I don’t like bad mouthing him. I don’t like people talking about me unless they want to fight me. Simple as that. I’ve been training hard. For my last fight I was a light heavyweight, for my next fight I’ll be down to middleweight, and I hope there are some big fights out there for me. Martin Murray is a good name I’d love to get in with. He’s a good boxer; he should’ve won a world title by now. I think I would beat him easily though. I’m too big for him. Domestically, the only names out there are Spike, Keeler and Quigley, I think I would be way too much for any of them.’’

Before his last fight, McDonagh claimed to have not trained in over six months, however much has changed since the turn of the year. On the back of superb training with Tony Ward, Tony Conroy and later Jay Morris in Brighton, McDonagh looks like a new man, and ideally hopes to operate at middleweight.

‘‘I wouldn’t like to imagine what I’d do to Jake Ball now that I’ve been training. He should be ashamed of himself saying that he’ll bate the head off me. I destroyed him. Over the ropes, it was like the royal rumble. He was on the ground for over seven minutes, I felt sick, I thought I had really hurt him.’’

Now focused on fights away from Ball, McDonagh is targeting domestic clashes at middleweight, while his aspirations stretch as far as a world title fight, following on from elite sparring.

‘‘I have been out in Ukraine sparring with Max Bursak. It was a great week or two. Max was unlucky in his world title fight then, beaten by the better man. I was sparring with Christ Eubank Jr just two weeks ago. Again, great experience for me, it was brilliant.’’

Posted: 11th Jul 2017

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