By Jack Sumner @Jack_Sumner_
The visiting fighter has promised to knock McDonnell out in front of his home fans and one look at his record suggests that Ceja (24-0, 22 KO’s) has complete belief in fulfilling that promise. With a knockout percentage of 91.66% the unbeaten 20-year-old is the one of the most ferocious punchers in the division and has hall-of-fame Mexican trainer Nacho Beristain in his corner.
There is a question mark hanging over the level of opposition Ceja has faced, although being able to consistently score knockouts suggests his power is undeniable. In his last outing, ‘Pollito’ levelled Henry Maldonado with a right uppercut in the fifth and, to provide some context, Maldonado has a stoppage win over McDonnell’s last opponent Darwin Zamora.
McDonnell (20-2-1, 9 KO’s) has never been stopped and is unbeaten as a bantamweight, winning British, Commonwealth and European titles at 118lbs. After suffering back-to-back defeats to Chris Edwards and Lee Haskins at super-flyweight five years ago – both of which came by virtue of razor-thin points decisions – the 5’8” Yorkshireman chose to add additional pounds to his lean frame, a decision which has also seen him grow as a fighter, now on he cusp of the world stage.
In McDonnell’s run at bantamweight he has notched some noteworthy victories, domestically over Ian Napa and Stuart Hall, with his biggest scalp to date that of Stephan Jamoye who currently holds McDonnell’s old European crown. There’s something about Ceja however that suggests this is another step up in levels for the Doncaster man and Jamie may need to draw as much as he can from his home support in order to triumph here.
Winning your first twenty-four fights on the Mexican circuit is no mean feat, where prospects are thrown in at the deep end with tough men as teenagers, and for Ceja to have dispatched 22 inside the distance at his young age makes that feat all the more impressive.
I would favour McDonnell to be the better boxer and he possess height and reach advantages, which he’ll need to keep the big punching Mexican at bay. He took decent shots from hard hitting Jamoye in their encounter, but also had his knees buckled by the Belgian and at times looked vulnerable.
Ceja appears to be a patient operator but will not let his opponents of the hook once he has them hurt and I think he definitely has the power to hurt McDonnell. The Mexican slips and rolls a lot of shots and can be hard to hit when pressed by his opponents, but when coming forward and throwing punches of his own leaves gaping holes to exploit.
If McDonnell can be at his best and draw the energy of an electric British crowd, à la Ricky Hatton or Carl Froch in their defining victories on home soil, Ceja might be blown away by the occasion and become discouraged if Jamie manages to land some heavy shots. There’s no question that McDonnell has the tools to take this over the distance, but he probably lacks the power to stop his rival.
If he can’t find anything to discourage the young Mexican in front of him, he could wind up being stopped himself.