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Rey Vargas, Gavin McDonnell to fight for junior featherweight title

Mexico's Rey Vargas and England's Gavin McDonnell will meet for a vacant junior featherweight world title on Feb. 25 at the Hull Ice Arena in Hull, England, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Vargas (28-0, 22 KOs) and former European champion McDonnell (16-0-2, 4 KOs), 30, will square off for the 122-pound belt left vacant when Japan's Hozumi Hasegawa, who won world titles in three weight classes, announced his retirement last month.

Vargas was the mandatory challenger to face Hasegawa but when he retired Vargas was ordered to face the next leading available contender for the vacant title. That turned out to be McDonnell.

A victory by McDonnell would make for a bit of British boxing history. He is the twin brother of bantamweight world titleholder Jamie McDonnell and they would become the first British twins to simultaneously hold world titles.

"This is a huge opportunity for Gavin McDonnell to win the first world title of 2017 and also create some special history for British boxing," Hearn said. "Vargas is an excellent fighter but I believe we can create an electric atmosphere in the Hull Arena that can raise his levels to win this. "

The McDonnell brothers could also become the second pair of active twins to hold world titles at the same time as Jermell Charlo and Jermall Charlo both are reigning junior middleweight titleholders.

"I have to pinch myself that it's finally here," Gavin McDonnell said. "All the hard work I've put in over the years, it feels like it's meant to be this moment. I have seen my brother become world champion, I have seen my gym-mate (cruiserweight) Tony Bellew become world champion and I believe now I'm ready and to be let off the leash. I'm ready to become world champion. Two twin brothers on the scene, both world champions standing side by side -- the Klitschko brothers of Doncaster!"

Vargas is coming off a fifth-round knockout of former junior bantamweight world titleholder Alexander Munoz on Sept. 3. McDonnell has won five fights in a row since retaining the British title via split draw with Josh Wale in May 2014.

"Having home advantage is key and I've wanted that," McDonnell said. "I like being written off, I love proving people wrong and this will be no different. I really want to make a name for myself, I've always felt like I've been in my brother's shadow but I'm 18 fights unbeaten and I'm on the verge of a world title fight.

"Vargas' record says that he's big puncher but we won't know how good he is until we get in there. How much does he want it? Not more than me. He will have to knock me out cold to win it as he can't beat me."

In the co-feature, British lightweight contender Luke Campbell (15-1, 12 KOs), a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, will defend his regional belt against Jairo Lopez (21-6, 14 KOs), a stablemate of Vargas.

The 29-year-old Campbell, a southpaw who likely will get a summer world title shot if he wins, has won three fights in a row since his upset 12-round split decision loss to France's unheralded Yvan Mendy in December 2012. Campbell will be boxing in his hometown. Lopez has also won three fights in a row following three consecutive defeats.

"It's great to see Luke Campbell back fighting in Hull again," Hearn said. "We plan to bring his world title fight there in the summer and he faces a tough test in Lopez."