Jamie McDonnell dismissed Julio Ceja's fearsome reputation to claim the vacant IBF bantamweight title with a controversial majority decision win at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster. McDonnell, who lost two successive fights five years ago and looked to be going nowhere, had worked his way up the rankings to earn the shot and took it with both hands.
However, he seemed to have lost his chance against Ceja, whose powerful work looked to have done enough to win the belt on away turf only for contentious scores of 114-114, 115-113 and a frankly ludicrous 118-110 to hand it to McDonnell.
"Oh my god, what an amazing feeling,'' said the new champion afterwards. "In the first five rounds or so I felt him out and wanted to come on stronger as the fight went on. I started digging him in the last few rounds and I felt I could have even got the stoppage.
"I was actually enjoying it. He had a big record with 22 knockouts but I dug in because I wanted this belt. I controlled that fight. I could have easily pushed it more. There were a few anxious moments when he caught me but I enjoyed that last round more than I've ever enjoyed a round. It means everything and this belt is for everyone in Doncaster.''
McDonnell, 27, brought a record of 20-2-1 with nine stoppages into the bout, compared with Ceja's formidable 24-0 tally with 22 knockouts.