After a glittering amateur career, Eric Donovan could be forgiven for hanging his mitts up and settling for a life of reminiscing on former glories.
However, Donovan, a former Irish international amateur star and European bronze medallist, isn’t most boxers and is set to make his debut in the pro ranks on Saturday, June 25 at the National Stadium, Dublin.
For almost a decade, Donovan ranked amongst Europe’s top amateur boxers, chalking up five Irish Elite National titles from Bantamweight through to Lightweight, a Four Nations gold, European Union bronze medal and a bronze at the 2010 European championships in Moscow. Now, the popular boxer has decided to take his vest off and punch-for-pay on a show co-promoted by FS Promotions and Ricky Hatton .
Discussing his decision to return to the ring Donovan, a father of two boys, explained,”I realised I hadn’t achieved my full potential in boxing and still had a lot to offer. The thought of turning professional provided me with a lot of motivation and after a number of discussions I have decided to challenge myself and make the jump into pro boxing.”
“I was disappointed not to make it to the Olympics, but a season fighting in the World Series of Boxing for the Astana Arlans gave me a new lease of life in the ring. Living and training out in Kazakhstan with some great boxers opened up my eyes and it was great to be part of the group that won the WSB Team competition”, explained Donovan.
The Athy fighter, who holds wins in the amateur code over current professionals such as Tom Stalker, James Tennyson, Patrick Hyland, Declan Geraghty and over the 2009 ‘AIBA Boxer of the Year’ Dominico Valentino, is spurred on by the achievements of many of his previous opponents.
“There is so much boxing on TV these days and I get to watch a lot of guys that I have fought, and often beaten. Their victories have encouraged me to go for it. Professional boxing is a tough game but I’m prepared for the challenge. The level of support has been amazing and I have already had to go back to the promoters and ask for more tickets because I sold out the ones I was given.”
Donovan has been keeping himself busy out of the ring, having recently completed a Diploma in Counselling, he is the Sports Ambassador for ‘I’m A Friend’ (www.imafriend.com) and as well as running a successful boxercise and fitness business, he has established himself as a boxing analyst and commentator for Irish state broadcaster, RTE.
“I was the first Irish Elite amateur champion from St. Michael’s Boxing Club in Athy and I would love to bring home the first Irish professional title to the club as well.”
“But I wont stop there, I am a quick learner and very adaptable and I am aiming to have an Irish title within five fights. Then set my sights are on a European title and a world title fight.
“I look at guys like Anthony Crolla, Ricky Burns and Terry Flanagan and think to myself that they haven’t got anything I don’t have, so I will be looking to achieve world honours like they have.”
“I would like to thank my sponsors Sean Corry and the Healthy Living Centre in Athy, as well as my club coach, Dominic O’Rourke for all his support,” added Donovan.
The Kildare fighter makes his debut on a packed bill at the National Stadium fittingly titled ‘The Future’, and will feature alongside some of some of Ireland’s brightest boxing prospects including unbeaten Derry banger Tyrone McCullagh, debutants Chris Blaney and Jay Byrne. Intriguingly four potential future opponents for Donovan have also been added to the show, including an undefeated trio of Paul Hyland Jnr, Ciaran Bates and Stephen Carroll as well as experienced former Prizefighter contestant Michael Devine.
Tickets for Eric’s debut at the National Stadium, Dublin on Saturday, June 25 range from €35 seated and €50 ringside, and are available in Athy from The Healthy Living Centre, 2 Duke Street, Athy, Co. Kildare. Alternatively, call Laura on 0867949406.
Follow Eric on twitter at @eric_donovan60 and Leonard Gunning at @LoveIrishBoxing