By Matt Bevan (@MBevs68)
Manager and trainer Dave Coldwell claims that although Chris Eubank Jnr may be the biggest name on the card, Gavin McDonnell’s (13(4)-0-2) defence of the European super-bantamweight title against Jeremy Parodi (37(9)-2-1) is the real main event on the live Sky Sports bill coming from the Sheffield Arena on Saturday night.
Coldwell, who trains McDonnell, also manages three other prospects who will fight on the bill in Jamie “Ginger Rocket” Robinson (6(2)-2-1) who fights Atif Shafiq (14(3)-1) of the Ingle Gym, cruiserweight Russ Henshaw (5(2)-0) and lightweight Lee Appleyard (4(1)-1), and he is ready for a busy night.
Kell Brook was originally scheduled to defend his IBF world welterweight title against Diego Chaves, but had to withdraw due to a rib injury, but Coldwell is still hoping that the local fans will come out in force and support Yorkshire boxing, and in particular McDonnell in what is a big chance for the Doncaster man.
“Saturday is going to be a busy one for me, with managing three of the lads, but I like a challenge. My priority timewise on the night though is Gavin McDonnell, as it is our first fight together since I started training him, and he is in a really good place and full of energy ready for fight night.
“It’s a big fight and I expect their styles to gel and make it a really exciting fight. You can’t judge Parodi on the Carl Frampton fight and we’re expecting a totally different guy to what Carl faced. He’ll come flying out of the blocks and expect to win, but Gav has improved so much, just ask his brother and other guys who he has sparred like Ryan Burnett and Gamal Yafai, as to the difference in him since the beginning of camp.
“It’s a big chance for him to steal the show and he’s chief support live on Sky Sports. Eubank may be the big name, but fight wise this is the main event. It’s a proper scrap and as Gavin is from round here, he will have plenty of local support. There’s some great fights on the bill, like Leigh Wood and Josh Wale’s clash, with some quality young prospects, so I think the Yorkshire fans will come out in force to support it.”
Coldwell will have plenty of interest in Robinson’s meeting with Shafiq, which has gained plenty of momentum on social media, where the two have traded barbs on a daily basis. It has all the makings of a classic local derby between the Ingle Gym trained Shafiq and the Bolsover based, Ryan Rhodes trained “Ginger Rocket”.
He’s also confident of Henshaw and Appleyard’s chances on Saturday night. Henshaw, who is a regular sparring partner of Tony Bellew, takes on Latvian Reinis Porozovs (3(2)-5-1), while Appleyard, who is trained by Dave Hulley and Jimmy Harrington in Doncaster, faces Andy Harris (3-28-1).
“Jamie is the sort of fighter who can turn any fight into an exciting one. He wears his heart on his sleeve and has been preparing like a madman with Ryan Rhodes for this fight. We’ve had the full countdown with him and Atif on social media every day and I’m confident that if Jamie controls his emotions and sticks to the game plan, he’ll beat Shafiq.
“‘Rocket’ has talked the talk, now he must walk the walk, which I expect him to do. Shafiq will be the favourite for the majority of fans, but Jamie can pull it off. Russ Henshaw is one of my favourite guys to work with, as he loves to fight and is more excited than anyone about fighting on this bill. He’s a lovely bloke out of the ring, but in it he goes for the KO and wants to inflict as much damage as possible.
“The sparring with Tony has brought him on so much, as he is prepared to go in with the best, which has also helped Tony, as Russ is a handful for anyone on his day. Finally, Lee Appleyard who is in with Andy Harris, who has been around the block a few times and in with some guys. I’m looking forward to seeing how Lee has developed under Dave and Jimmy and seeing what he brings on Saturday.
“He is a perfect example of how to recover from a defeat. He lost in June, when his opponent dropped out with less than 12 hours’ notice and rather than take an easy fight, he wanted a proper fight for his fans, as he had done loads of tickets. He took on a lad in Adam Hague who no one knew anything about and turned out to be pretty good, and you could see the improvements in Lee’s last fight. I’m expecting more again Saturday.”by