Boxing - Primetime for Jamie McDonnell

Dennis Hobson has pulled out all the stops to make history, as the Sheffield promoter has secured home advantage for Jamie McDonnell as he attempts to become Doncaster’s first ever world champion.

Boxing - Primetime for Jamie McDonnell

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Primetime for Jamie McDonnell

Jamie, 27, will clash with big-punching Mexican, Julio Ceja, on May 11 at Doncaster FC's Keepmoat Stadium, with the winner picking up the vacant IBF world bantamweight crown.

Unbeaten Ceja, 20, enters the contest with a formidable record, having knocked out 22 of his 24 opponents, but Hobson believes that McDonnell will ultimately prevail in a terrific scrap. With just over a fortnight to go before first bell, Hobson has announced that the whole show, which features a series of quality bouts - including Darlington’s Stuart Hall against highly-rated American Sergio Perales for the IBF Inter-Continental bantamweight belt - will be televised live by Primetime TV.

Q and A with Dennis Hobson

How are tickets sales going?

Tickets are going well. We’ve sold about 4000 up to now and are hoping to sell at least 7000. It will be a fantastic atmosphere. The reason I’ve taken the punt with this event is to give Jamie the best opportunity to become world champion. Obviously he’d be Doncaster’s first world champion and we wanted to do something that’s all about making history.

Tell us about the television deal.

I did an article a while ago in The Telegraph where, it’s not really sour grapes but just the fact that Sky [Sports] have gone with just the one promoter and it’s created a monopoly.  So unless you dance to their tune you’re out in the cold. We spoke to BoxNation and a few other broadcasters but the thing is that Doncaster Rovers couldn’t put this event on any other Saturday because it’s the only time they could let us use the pitch before they rip it up and re-lay it, so we were looking at history making being called off.

So we’re going with Primetime, but I’m paying for all the production. So really, all I’m doing is buying airtime from Primetime; it’s my production. Primetime is on Sky Channel 498 and anybody who has ever bought anything from Primetime, that’s 200,000 people they’ve got on membership, all they have to do is press the red button. It’s as easy as that. Anyone that’s not registered before just needs to go to Primetime’s website. This is a proper world title fight.

Even the chief support is a fantastic fight which could top any bill. The whole card is quality, so whether people can make it to the actual event or not, the next best thing is to pay £10 to be guaranteed to be entertained. It’ll be a money back guarantee from me because if they’re not entertained I’ll give their tenner back!

How tough a fight does Jamie have against Julio Ceja?

They’re billing this kid as the next big thing out of Mexico. He’s an absolute superstar in Mexico and he’s exciting because he’s undefeated, 24 wins with 22 knockouts, which is scary. But Jamie is made of sterner stuff than to be worried about anyone’s record. Styles do make fights and this is a fight that can’t fail to be quality. Jamie’s never been found wanting for bravery. We want him to box to orders and box this kid but at the same time we want him to, at any opportunity, sting this kid to soften him up a bit. So there are going to be some exciting exchanges.

What’s your prediction?

I think Jamie will outbox him with his movement. I also think people underestimate Jamie’s punch power and I think Jamie will end up stopping this kid late on.

How important has Dave Hulley, Jamie’s full-time trainer, been in the build-up?

Dave (pictured middle, alongside Jamie and Dennis) has gone onto another level as a trainer and he’s shown his commitment to the cause, and to Jamie, by staying with him and making sure he gets the right food at the right time, gets up at the right time, etc. I can’t praise Dave enough. He’s turning into a top trainer and that’s what you need, someone who’s totally committed, if you’re going to get to the top. There are no short cuts and Dave’s making sure Jamie doesn’t take any, and that’s the reason why we’ve got a great chance of winning the world title. I’m really happy to be working with Dave and I respect him. He’s a proper fella and straight down the line.

What fight is the pick of the undercard for you?

There are great fights right through the card. There is a local scrap between an undefeated kid called Jamie Sampson, and Lee Connelly. I know it’s only going to be six-threes but that’s a great scrap. Jason Ball will come and have a pop at Lewis Taylor but I think Lewis will weather the storm. You’ll always get excitement with the heavyweights and Dave Allen and Carl Spencer are both very capable and have both got different styles. I think this kid who Carl Spencer is fighting will come and have a go. I'm also looking forward to the English title fight with Jason Cunningham. So there are great fights, and not just from a purist’s point of view.

There might even be people who are not bothered about boxing but like to come to an event – and this is a really exciting, big event. It’s got all the ingredients to be really special. We’ve got entertainment on. My daughter, who was on The Voice last Saturday and sung for Ricky Hatton in Vegas, will be singing the national anthem, and there’ll be celebrities and personalities as well. So it’s a family event and it’s going to be a carnival atmosphere. If Jamie does the business it’s going to be a massive celebration for Doncaster, and for the rest of Britain, because it’s a British kid coming good who has done it the hard way.

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