British Scene Preview: John O'Donnell vs Craig Watson

Dave Oakes previews this Saturday's British Welterweight title match-up between John O'Donnell and Craig Watson.  Check back shortly for a look at Daws vs Theophane and Fury vs Nascimento.

The first meeting between John O’Donnell and Craig Watson was one of the highlights of 2009, two years on and they meet again, this time for the British welterweight title.

It’s fair to say there’s a bit of needle between the pair; it started before the first fight and has grown in the intervening period. Watson thought he won the fight, O’Donnell and the judges disagreed (O’Donnell won via a split decision). Watson has been talking about revenge ever since, whilst O’Donnell has responded by saying he’ll shut Watson’s mouth come fight night.

A clash of southpaws can often lead to an untidy bout; this wasn’t the case last time though, the fight was enthralling from the first bell to the last. Watson started the better of the two before O’Donnell rallied late to edge it, showing great fighting heart in process. Most people, including myself, had Watson winning, but it was close and Saturday night should also be another give and take affair.

Watson, 19-3 (8 KO’s), has been the busier of the two since their first meeting, notching up six consecutive wins, including winning the Commonwealth title at light-middleweight. Even though the standard of opposition hasn’t been the greatest, Watson has taken care of them with ease and won’t have any ring rust to shed, unlike O’Donnell who has only fought three times in the same period, the last of those being just over five months ago.

O’Donnell has failed to build on the Watson win, he didn’t make a single defence of the Commonwealth title he won that night and has been treading water for two years - a situation not helped by promoter Mick Hennessey’s struggle to get a television deal, Hennessy being left in limbo following ITV’s abysmal decision to stop showing boxing. This fight will be on Premier Sports, a relative newcomer in television terms.

O’Donnell has a respectable 24-1 (11 KO’s) record but only Watson and Terrance Cauthen can be classed as live opponents. O’Donnell beat Cauthen with ease last time out; the one time American hot prospect looked to be a pale imitation of his former self but it was still a reasonable win for O’Donnell.

I can see the fight being very similar to their first, the taller O’Donnell trying to control things on the outside with lateral movement and bursts of fast straight shots, whilst Watson, pressurizing wisely, will be throwing shots to head and body, most notably his dangerous left hook.

O’Donnell will be forced to stand and trade at times, which he did adeptly late on last time. Watson may choose to box more this time, something he’s more than capable of - I feel he’s somewhat underrated when it comes to his boxing ability. All in all, it makes for another close and entertaining battle, one which I think Watson will edge narrowly on the cards.

e-mail Dave Oakes

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