‘Forgotten’ man JJ McDonagh has warned Darren Cruise against reading too much into the pair’s first encounter ahead of their Crawley-hosted Irish super middleweight title fight this weekend.
The reigning champion and the challenger traded leather in a largely forgettable All Irish Prizefighter back in 2012, and McDonagh claims it’s a whole different ball game this time round.
Like Cruise, the southpaw claims the fact the bout is scheduled for 10 and not three rounds makes it a different proposition, but also revealed the solider didn’t taste any of McDonagh’s power the first time round.
The 30 year old says he entered the high profile knock-out tournament with two badly damaged hands and with the intention of banking cash and not wins. .
“Our fight was a good few years back and that was just a three round fight. We are fighting over 10 rounds now and we have both had more fights since so it should be a different fight,” McDonagh told Irish-boxing.com.
“I wouldn’t look into that last fight too much, but I will say during that fight I didn’t land hard on him once. I had two bad hand injuries going into Prizefighter. I had two bad hands and I went in for the few quid. I destroyed my hands in the fight before Prizefighter I honestly didn’t think I would make the final and some people say I won it.”
“My hands are grand now and there is no doubt I will be hitting harder.”
McDonagh amazingly makes the first defence of a title he won he Sussex by defeating Lee Murtagh in 2012. Despite suggestions otherwise, the Mullingar man is adamant he was never stripped and claims with equal equivocation that he was always willing to defend the domestic strap.
Indeed he claims he is delighted with the chance to put the belt on the line in the K2 Leisure Centre this Saturday night and is hoping it will kick start a busy year for the fighter who has only fought five times in the last four years.
“I heard someone said it was a vacant title, but I was never stripped. I was always willing to fight all comers. I really wanted to defend the title. Alfredo Meli wanted to fight me for it, but he wanted to fight two pounds under the weight. I said if I can make it two pounds under I would that is how bad I wanted to defend it. I told him about a week short of the fight I didn’t think I could get down below the weight and we would have to do it at 12 stone. Then they said they didn’t want it.
“I was a bit pissed off I couldn’t defend it. Joe McCreevy was another, I was hoping to defend against him in America but that never happened. Cruise has been talking about this the whole time and great it’s happening now. Honestly I think it is brilliant I get to defend the title.
“Hopefully we step it up this year, that’s the plan anyway. I would love to defend my title here in Ireland. I had to go to win it in England and I am defending it in England. Anytime there is a show in Ireland neither myself or my brother are asked to fight on it. I am a bit of a forgotten man and hopefully that will change.”