He wasn’t far off jumping into the ring during his brother Paddy’s Irish title win over Stevie Collins back last Summer and JJ McDonagh [15(7)-3(1)] is delighted he gets to go one step further as he returns to the famous National Stadium ring on March 3rd.
McDonagh banged the canvas and stuck his head through the ropes mid round screaming advice and encouragement the way of his boxing sibling during the Irish title fight.
Now come the Last Man Standing card, the Irish super middleweight champion will get to step rather than peek through the ropes as he populates the undercard of the TG4 fight card.
The Assassin puncher ends a seven-year wait to fight in Dublin again and is hoping after he dusts off the cobwebs he can return to the city in big fights.
“I haven’t actually boxed in Dublin in seven years now so it will be great,” McDonagh told Irish-boxing.com.
That was a brilliant night for Paddy, and I want to be in them sort of big fights. I need this fight to get rid of the cobwebs but after this I need to be in with big names, and I feel I can force that at middleweight,”
The Irish super middleweight champion, whose biggest win – a stoppage of Jake Ball – came at light heavy, now has his heart set on winning the Irish middleweight belt.
The title is currently held by Luke Keeler and the winner of the Last Man Standing tournament will secure mandatory status. However, if Keeler defeats Conrad Cummings in Belfast on April 21st he may vacate and it’s believed that will pave the way for a clash between the Last Man Standing winner and McDonagh.
“I would love to fight the winner of Last Man Standing. I don’t know about calling them out. I know a lot of them in it so don’t want to bad mouth them, but it’s just business.”
“I’ll definitely call the winner out but not in a nasty way – if that makes sense. I just want to fight the best and that’s ultimately what Last Man Standing is deciding.”
“I don’t know what the story is with fighting for the Irish title. If Keeler still has it, I would love to fight him and then the winner of that fights the winner of Last Man, or if Keeler vacates, just doing me against Last Man for the title. I really want that Irish title.”
The 32-year-old southpaw has fought as high as light heavy but proved middleweight wasn’t a drop too far in his last fight and claims he will come in around 160lbs for his March 3rd National Stadium bout versus Polish journeyman Michal Ciach.
“I’ll fight at middleweight, I think for this fight I am allowed to come in a pound or two above 160,” noted McDonagh before describing his easy move down in weight.
“I got a call off Conor [Slater, Assassin Promotions] on January 2nd to tell me I was fighting in Mexico in three weeks and that I had to make 160 to get put in as mandatory for the middleweight title. I weighed in at 158lbs. So I made it quite comfortably.”
“Anyone that saw me at the weigh-in, I was walking around shadow boxing waiting for the weigh-in to start.”
“Since changing up my diet and my training, I can eat full portions, train the right amount, and walk around just over middleweight.”
It’s not just a return to middleweight for the former Prizefighter contestant, he has also returned to Dublin trainer Phil Sutcliffe, who he worked with in the Dolphil days.
“I am down training with Phil now. It’s been great, me and Paddy are down there five days a week and we are really enjoying it.”
“We have previously done camps in the UK, but with young kids, it’s always nice to be at home. When I got the chance to train with Phil I jumped at the opportunity.”