Gavin McDonnell beats Vusi Malinga on points in Hull to claim international belt
Last Updated: 26/10/14 1:59am
Gavin McDonnell took the step up in class in his stride to beat Vusi Malinga on points and win the WBO International super bantamweight title in Hull.
McDonnell, twin brother of WBA bantamweight champion Jamie, improved his record to 12-0-2 against the 34-year-old South African, a multiple challenger for world titles at the lower weight.
He was bloodied by the end, suffering damage to his nose and cut above his right eye, but McDonnell constantly produced the better punches despite Malinga spending more time on the front foot.
Both fighters landed decent blows in the opening rounds but as the first half of the fight wore on, Malinga was forced to miss more often and saw his best work landing on McDonnell's gloves and arms.
The inaccuracy continued to dog Malinga, although McDonnell seemed to go into his shell in the sixth and seventh rounds to give the South African renewed hope.
But the fight turned back in the Briton's favour in round eight when he caught Malinga with a superb right hand which had his opponent turning his back and forced an eight-count - he tried to go in for the kill over the rest of the round but Malinga stood firm.
Malinga responded well in the 10th, catching McDonnell and causing the cut which was scored as a punch, even though the fighters appeared to clash heads as well.
But McDonnell continued his consistent work until the final bell and earned a unanimous verdict, the judges scoring the fight 116-111 116-111 115-112 in his favour.
"I'm over the moon," McDonnell told Sky Sports. "It's been on my mind all week how tough this fight were. I couldn't imagine myself winning. I'm just glad I've got it over with and set a few records straight.
"I belong at this level. He outworks people and at times I had to stick in there with him but I stuck to my gameplan and got the win."