FOLLOWING his victory over Vusi Malinga in Hull on Saturday, the new WBO Inter-Continental super-bantamweight champion Gavin McDonnell says it is now onwards and upwards in his career.

McDonnell vacated the British title to pursue a world ranking, and picked Malinga himself as the opponent. His decision was proven to be correct, after he won a unanimous decision and next up for the Doncaster man is Zhanat Zhakiyanov for the European title next year.

McDonnell said: “I’m really pleased with the Malinga fight, because I stuck to the gameplan and got the win. I’ve got the world ranking now and I’m mandatory to the European title after that win.

“I’m not getting ahead of myself, but I still want to challenge myself and Stefy Bull, my manager told me yesterday that we’ve got the fight with Zhakiyanov.

“I’m more than confident going into that fight, because unlike his, my record is stacked with quality, but he must be there for a reason. It’s likely to happen late January to early Febraury and Eddie Hearn said I’ve got the pick of what show in Yorkshire I want to go on.”

Gavin believes that the win last Saturday will now show his critics that he has what it takes to succeed at the highest level. He believes that he will go far at world level and the Malinga victory has raised the bar for him.

“Look, I’ll be honest, I’m no world beater yet, but the win over Vusi has really raised the bar for me. Some people said he was an ageing fighter, but that didn’t look or feel like an aging fighter to me in there.

“After this win, I hope people will believe in me more and look at me and think, you know what, he has got something. As long as I get the right fights, at the right time, I know I can go far. I’ve got some great people behind me like Eddie and Stefy and they’re going to pick the right path for me.”

But, McDonnell reserves the majority of the credit for his trainer, Dave Hulley, who he says helped him remain calm and not worried when he suffered a nasty looking cut over his right eye in the 10th round.

However, despite the severity of the cut, Hulley and the rest of the corner did a superb job keeping it under the control for the rest of the fight. McDonnell says if anyone deserves credit for his victory on Saturday, it’s them.

“Dave was, as ever, absolutely tremendous in the corner. I’ve had cuts in my last three fights, but it never ever fazes me, as they never ever look like they’re panicking.

“I have total faith in Dave and everyone else in that corner. It was quite a long cut, but it was also pretty deep, however I just thought it was a little nick. There was never ever any sense of panic and I have to give them all so much credit.”

CLICK HERE to read about Gavin’s brother Jamie McDonnell’s date in Las Vegas

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