McDonnell victorious over Ceja to take bantamweight title in Doncaster

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.

Victorious: McDonnell beat Mexican Ceja on points in Doncaster

Victorious: McDonnell beat Mexican Ceja on points 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.

The 20-year-old Mexican was understandably the favourite heading into the bout, boasting such an impressive record. However, little was known about his previous conquests and he had never previously fought outside of his own country.

His maiden overseas contest could hardly have been more of a culture shock, going into the lion's den and fighting outdoors on a cold night in South Yorkshire.

McDonnell - who admitted this week he does not even particularly like boxing - came to the ring to The Killers' Mr Brightside, welcomed by around 3,000 enthusiastic fans.

McDonnell edged the opening round by rightly boxing carefully and keeping Ceja at bay, landing more jabs in a quiet opening.

Battle: Ceja struggled in his maiden overseas fight in the cold outdoors of South Yorkshire

Battle: Ceja struggled in his maiden overseas fight in the cold outdoors of South Yorkshire

Ceja took the second, however, landing more clean shots as McDonnell looked to stay out of harm's way. A left hook to the body was his best work as he walked the Yorkshireman down constantly.

McDonnell landed a nice combination on the counter in the third, but again Ceja looked impressive, winging in left hooks to head and body when the opportunity arose and finishing the round well with a jab-right double.


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After 12 tough rounds the judges awarded the contest 116-112, 117-112, 116-113 to the Scot with his opponent racing from the ring in disgust after the announcement, before returning to take a bow.

McDonnell landed decent lefts to body and then head in the fourth but needed more of the same to give himself a chance. Ceja was bullying him, though, a right to the body and an uppercut crashing home painfully.

McDonnell edged the fifth by upping his work-rate, but Ceja still managed to land three big rights over the course of the session.

Ceja was back on top in the sixth as the Englishman's lack of power looked to be costing him McDonnell had a much better eighth round, using his speed to land three and four-punch combinations. Yet every time Ceja did manage to land, it looked painful.

McDonnell's slick skills were more apparent in the ninth.

To his credit, McDonnell took Ceja's meaty power shots incredibly well throughout, not least in the 10th.

A Ceja left hook in the 11th was the punch of the fight, landing cleanly on McDonnell's chin. Yet still the Briton swallowed it and carried on.

McDonnell finished strongly in a thrilling final round and the judges' scorecards rewarded him for his durability, albeit highly controversially.

'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.'