By Rob Lancaster
All Jamie McDonnell wants for Christmas is a break - unless, that is, he is handed a world title shot for the start of 2013.
The Doncaster bantamweight will make just his second outing of the year this Saturday when he takes on late replacement Darwin Zamora in a final eliminator for the IBF belt at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield.
The bout will give the 26-year-old a chance to put himself at the front of the queue to take on current champion Leo Santa Cruz, though it is possible the Californian-based Mexican could yet opt to move up a division due to problems making the 8st 6lbs limit.
"I've been out of the ring for at least six or seven months. It's better to stay active," McDonnell told Sky Sports.
"I want to be back out after Christmas, perhaps in March. If I could be back in training at the start of January that would give me 10 weeks through to March.
"I haven't had a Christmas for two years - I've been lumbered with January dates - but I don't mind training over then if it's for a world title fight.
"As long as I can stay active and keep doing what I'm doing I'm happy."
McDonnell - who originally had been due to fight Vusi Malinga - admits he would love the chance to take on Santa Cruz, who forced Eric Morel to quit on his stool to be crowned IBF world champion last month.
"Santa Cruz has the world title and what a great name he is," the British boxer added.
"It would be a tough fight, don't get me wrong, but I think he's going to move up. We know he's struggling to make the weight. At the end of the day I just want to make a name for myself."
Promoter Eddie Hearn believes McDonnell will relish the chance to fight on big bills, starting this weekend on the undercard to Kell Brook's showdown with Hector Saldivia.
"I've always been an admirer of Jamie - he looks the part, he's got an exciting style and he sells tickets," Hearn said.
"What I like though is the look on his face when you talk to him about walking out into the arena. This kid is undefeated for the British, Commonwealth and European titles but he's never been in this situation.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him standing there and soaking it up. That's enjoyable as a promoter to see these guys growing. Some crumble, some people embrace it and I think he'll be one of those."
Tags: Jamie McDonnell