McDonnell-Na Rachawat set for May
Former bantamweight titlist Jamie McDonnell of England and Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat of Thailand will meet for a vacant bantamweight world title on May 31, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.
The bout will be one of the featured fights on the undercard of the rematch between super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch and George Groves at Wembley Stadium in London, where a crowd of some 80,000 is expected.
"I am so excited to be fighting for a world title on the biggest boxing show in British history," McDonnell said. "I'm honored to be a part of it and especially to be fighting to become a world champion again. I am absolutely flying with this news, and it's going to be a great boost in training."
McDonnell (23-2-1, 10 KOs), 28, claimed a vacant version of the 118-pound world title in his hometown of Yorkshire in May 2013, when he won a majority decision against Julio Ceja of Mexico. However, McDonnell never defended the belt, instead getting stripped for not making a mandatory defense in time.
British countryman Stuart Hall won the vacant title in December, although McDonnell had previously outpointed Hall in 2011 in a British, Commonwealth and European title fight.
"It's been a full year since I last fought for a world title and it's been tough, to be honest," McDonnell said. "I had a little taste of being a world champion. I loved it and it made me want it even more. Reaching the top of the world changes your life and I want to feel that again.
"I don't know much about Na Rachawat and I will leave that to the team. His record says he can bang a bit and he is a come-forward fighter who is game, so it will be an entertaining fight as that suits me. I'm expecting to win and win well."
The 30-year-old Na Rachawat (52-2, 34 KOs) has an imposing record, but he never has fought outside of Thailand, has faced many sub-.500 opponents and never has fought a name opponent.
"I'm delighted to deliver this opportunity for Jamie on a huge night for British boxing," Hearn said. "It's going to be a tough night for Jamie, but no one deserves a shot more in the division and I'm excited about watching him win his world title back."
Also on the card will be the previously announced super middleweight title eliminator between England's James DeGale (18-1, 12 KOs), a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, and Brandon Gonzales (18-0-1, 10 KOs) of Sacramento, Calif.
British heavyweight Anthony Joshua (5-0, 5 KOs), who won the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medal, is also scheduled to be on the card against an opponent to be determined in a scheduled eight-round bout.
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