Former British, Commonwealth, and European bantmaweight champion Jamie McDonnell kept his hot streak going, dominating Nicaragua's Darwin Zamora today in Sheffield, moving one step closer to a world title shot by winning the IBF eliminator bout.
McDonnell (20-2-1, 9 KO) pounded on Zamora (21-7-1, 18 KO) for much of the fight, landing easily through a non-existent defense. But credit to the 24-year-old Zamora, a late replacement opponent for Vusi Malinga, who came to fight but just wasn't in McDonnell's league, which was made clear quickly enough.
After eight rounds, all of which went to the Doncaster fighter, Zamora and his team made the decision that they'd gone as far as they needed to go with this one, and halted the bout. It was a fine call. Zamora had given all he could, and the eighth round had been all McDonnell. There appeared to be nothing Zamora could do other than stand up to McDonnell's punishment, which he did very well, and with no hope to win, the stoppage made sense.
"I honestly thought I was beating him up, and I'd see his face, and think, 'come on, ref,' and then he'd catch me with one," said McDonnell, acknowledging his opponent's toughness and determination.
The 26-year-old McDonnell may have to fight another eliminator bout before getting his IBF world title shot, given that Zamora was a replacement opponent, but McDonnell has done plenty enough compared to the standard to get a world title shot. He's won titles at each level he's fought, and he's as ready as he's going to get. Leo Santa Cruz would be a monumental task for him, but McDonnell is no pushover himself, a quality fighter who has earned his standing as a top ten fighter in the bantamweight division.