Talking Boxing

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January 17, 2017

Keep the tough fights coming

Dave Coldwell, Gavin McDonnell

Gavin McDonnell has come on leaps and bounds since he teamed up with Dave Coldwell.

by Shaun Brown

Dave Coldwell described his 2016 as “phenomenal” when chatting to Talking Boxing recently. From Tony Bellew’s memorable and emotional WBC world cruiserweight title victory at Goodison Park to Jamie McDonnell’s continued emergence as one of the world’s best bantamweights, there was plenty to celebrate last year.

2017 looks like providing similar opportunities for the Coldwell stable. On February 4, heavyweight David Price gets a chance to prove the nay-sayers wrong with a much-needed test against Christian Hammer on ITV box-office. And three weeks later, the Cinderella story of Gavin McDonnell (16-0-2, 4 KOs) continues as he squares off against Mexico’s Rey Vargas (28-0, 22 KOs) in Hull for the vacant WBC Super Bantamweight title.

Coldwell expected his charge to be fighting for the green belt, after the retirement of champion Hosumi Hasegawa, and says it’s another example of his fighters being consistently involved in tough fights.

“My lads do get tough fights,” Coldwell remarked.

“It’s not like we get walked into title shots and easy opportunities. They are tough fights but that’s how it is. If you look at our lads and the fights they’ve had there’s a high chance that they were going to get beat.”

“[You’ve] got to look at Gavin McDonnell. Only a handful of fights ago [he] was struggling and getting beat by Leigh Wood before he turned it around. Look at the strides he’s made. Every fight he has been in has been a real fight, because he’s not one of your more naturally gifted fighters. (Jeremy) Parodi was a big step up for him. There’s always real fights for him. When you’re not a big puncher then every fight is going to be a tough fight.”

Coldwell and his team take such challenges in their stride. Tomoki Kameda (twice), Liborio Solis, Mateusz Masternak and Ilunga Makabu are a quartet of quality operators who have all ended with a L on their record thanks to the effort and desire shown by the likes of Jamie McDonnell and Tony Bellew. A Dave Coldwell fighter doesn’t know when he’s beat, a trait that Gavin McDonnell must have in abundance against Vargas next month.

“It’s a genuinely tough fight and we’re going in as an underdog,” Coldwell said.

“At the end of the day all we do is prepare our fighters to be the best that they can be, and if they’re the best that they can be then they’ve got every chance whether they’re the underdog or they’re the favourite. You can’t worry too much about the other man.

“You can be careful and mindful at what they’re great at all you want but if you’re not on point yourself then you’ve got no chance yourself. You have to be at the best that you can be. Gavin’s working on new things for this fight that he’s yet to add to his game, because we’re always looking to constantly add and he’s pulling them off in training. He’s just got to start doing it in sparring on a regular basis and then it becomes natural, and then he can take it on into the fight.”

Coldwell will be looking to use McDonnell’s performance in an eight-rounder last-time out to his advantage. A night that ended in victory for McDonnell against Robin Zamora on points, but one that also saw the 30-year-old on the wrong side of a ticking off from his trainer.

“The best thing for me is Gav, in his last fight, underperformed,” Coldwell said.

“It was an eight rounder and down the bill. You can say what you want to fighters but when they get on a roll people talk about moving from domestic level to world level. Sometimes they can get a little bit carried away, a little bit star struck almost. Then when they go in an eight rounder, sometimes they take the fight lightly and are just not as focussed as what maybe they should have been.

“He made it harder than it should have been, and basically got a bollocking off me during the fight and after the fight, and ever since. That works in my favour because it’s a bit of a reality check for him because he realises not to get caught up and swept up in the moment because his brother is world champion.

“He’s unbeaten, he keeps winning and climbing up rankings and soon getting into that bracket of fighting for world titles and catching his brother. He’s got to think about right now and so that makes my job easier. He knows it can all unravel and all end. It’s made him more focussed, more driven, more eager to improve.”