By Matt Bevan
When Gavin McDonnell challenges for the vacant WBC super-bantamweight world title on February 25 at the Hull Arena, the man in the corner with him is well aware as to how difficult a night it will be for the Doncaster man.
For trainer and manager Dave Coldwell it will be the start of two busy weeks for his stable, as the week after Tony Bellew, the WBC cruiserweight champion, travels to London to step up to heavyweight and face his bitter rival David Haye.
Coldwell suggests that seeing Bellew win the WBC title last May will serve as the perfect inspiration for McDonnell and he also confirms he is very happy with the progress that ‘The Bomber’ is making for the March 4 clash with Haye at the O2 Arena in London.
“We’re preparing for the toughest night of Gavin’s career so far,” Caldwell told Boxing Scene. “Vargas is tall, rangy with long arms and loves the right hand or left to the body. It’s a tough ask, but what do you expect? It’s a WBC world title fight.
“He’s Mexican and carries that heritage with him. This is the belt that Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera clashed for. Gavin’s so dedicated and it’s incredible to see how much he has progressed in the 18 months we’ve been working together.
“He’s seen Tony win this title and can see how proud a champion that Tony is. He’s drawing inspiration from Tony’s big win over Ilunga Makabu at Goodison Park in a fight that nobody thought he would win and he’s desperate to get that green and gold belt around his waist.
“As for Tony, he’s improving already and I’m really happy with his attitude. We’ll crank it up in the next week and he’s taking the work we’re doing on the floor into the ring in sparring which is the result we want.
“He has always been in the position where he has never been good enough, according to some. Then he went and won the world title. He’s got a big mouth and wears his heart on his sleeve which divides opinions, so he’ll never get the credit that he deserves.”
For Coldwell 2016 represents his best ever year in the sport. Since he returned as a trainer with Bellew he has yet to taste defeat and has added both McDonnell twins [the aforementioned Gavin and WBA ‘regular’ bantamweight king Jamie] and David Price along the way which, of course, he is looking to build on this year.
He has also big hopes for some of his managerial stable, with many hoping to potentially chase down British or Commonwealth title shots in 2017, especially with the new TV companies getting involved there will be more opportunities than ever.
“2016 has simply outdone everything for me. I would never have come back into training fighters if Tony hadn’t asked me to. So it’s fitting he won the world title as that was our aim as a pair and we’re on a roll with the McDonnell’s and Pricey.
“It’s going well for the fighters I manage too and I’ve got high hopes for some of them. We’ve added Lewis Taylor recently who came back with a win, whilst Tom Doran, Ryan Fields and Jordan Cooke will also be coming back and targeting a big year.
“Paul Economides put in a great performance on Sky against Sean Davis which did him no harm and also keep your eye out for George Rhodes Jr. With all the new companies coming in, it’s a great sport to be involved in at the moment.
“Channel 5 are still there, whilst BT are now in and ITV are coming back. It’s fantastic and all we’re missing is the BBC. All people are talking about is boxing and a new generation of fans are getting brought in. The big fights are getting made and we have these big personalities now, which is dragging in more and more interest.
“2016 was amazing,” Coldwell said, “but 2017 could well be even more successful for us as a sport.”