Jamie McDonnell is targeting mega-fights in 2017 as he defends his WBA World Bantamweight crown against Liborio Solis in Monte-Carlo on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.
The Doncaster star extended his winning run to 20 with a clinical ninth round stoppage win over Fernando Vargas at The O2 in London in April.
That win was McDonnell’s fourth successful defence of his WBA crown but the champion is frustrated that his fifth defence is only his second fight of the year.
“It’s been a long wait for this fight,” said McDonnell. “I want to be active and I’ve not been out as much as I’d have liked. But we’ll see this one out and move on to big things hopefully next year.
“He’s no mug this kid and I’m going to have to be switched on for it. He put Shinsuke Yamanaka down twice with the back hand so he can bang a bit. People will expect me to win this but it’s not going to be the walkthrough that some of my other fights have been. And I’m happy with that.
“It's great to be in Monaco, I want to get a good win and soak up another new experience, I've had a couple of fights in the States and now we're here, it's great, I've had a long camp so I want to get the win and we can stay out here and have a nice few days celebrating.”
McDonnell had been slated to meet WBA Super and IBO champion Rau’shee Warren but the American pulled out of the mandated bout to McDonnell’s frustration. The three-time Olympian from Cincinnati took the titles from Juan Carlos Payano in a rematch in June, but has suggested that he’ll tangle with McDonnell early in 2017.
McDonnell is in no rush to commit to the fight though, with a huge unification rematch with Lee Haskins, the Bristolian who beat McDonnell in 2007 and picked up his old IBF title, and the 30 year old is also mulling over a move up to Super-Bantamweight.
“I don't that Rau'shee Warren wanted the fight,” said McDonnell. “He bottled it, but that's his problem not mine.
“He’s the kid that I’ve had in my mind for the last three or four months. The first six weeks or so of this camp, I was preparing to fight him. We had sparring over with him in mind. He’s a top kid, a three time Olympian, so there was no taking him lightly.
“I sparred a few southpaws and we were working on how to beat him. It’s not all gone out of the window because it was all good work but it was disappointing when he walked away from it. The fight will probably still happen, early on next year, and I’ll deal with him then.
“Lee Haskins has a win over me and I'd like to avenge that loss and get my old IBF belt back at the same time. Warren has said that he'll take the fight next year so we'll see, or I can move up to Super-Bantamweight where there's some huge fights.
“I would like the Warren fight in the States. If the Haskins one comes along I'll have that, or if there's a big fight at Super-Bantamweight then I am happy to move up. I think I have a lot of options in both weights and I think that if I win well, I can have a good Christmas and get a holiday in knowing that 2017 is going to be full of big fights and big money.”