Athy’s Eric Donovan got his professional boxing career off to a flying start on Saturday night in front of a fervent crowd at the National Stadium in Dublin as he overcame the tough Polish slugger Damian Lawniczak to chalk up a four round victory.
Making his debut at the age of 30, a number of question marks lingered regarding the five-time Irish Elite champion’s ability make the transition pro game, especially making a debut against an experienced campaigner such as Lawniczak. However, the ‘Lilywhite Lightning’ answered all the questions in the ring and had the members of the national press raving about his imperious performance.
Lawniczak came into the fight full of confidence having shattered the dreams of another debuting fighter, Tom McGinley, earlier in the month by beating him on points at the York Hall in London, and it was the eager Pole who sprung out of the blocks and attacked his debuting opponent from the first bell.
Donovan kept the action at long range and displayed elements of the classy boxing honed during his years in the amateur ranks early on. After a cagey first round, the Kildare boxer peppered his Polish foe with a series of right jabs in the second and tied Lawniczak in knots with his superior footwork.
As the fight progressed Donovan settled into a rhythm a connected with a number of meaty uppercuts and left crosses that rocked his Polish opponent but the Lawniczak boxer dug in to tie the debutant up in an attempt stiffle Donovan.
In the fourth and final, Coach Dominic O’Rouke, took the leash off his charge who then powered through with a late flourish to earn the a comfortable victory on judge Emile Tiedt’s scorecard with a score of four rounds to zero.
“Lawinczak was very slippery in there, his record speaks for itself. He knew when to go off the ropes and when to stand in the centre of the ring, so he was cute and clever and an ideal opponent for me on my debut,” admitted Donovan.
“I got great sparring with Ray Moylette, Tyrone McCullagh and Jake Hanney, so I was trying to mix it up with different styles and sizes to get back to my best. It was great to have my first real competitive fight for three years. I have kept myself in shape and looking in good condition but you need to be fight-fit and I’m going to need to remain active on this new journey.
“I want another two fights before the end of the year and by this time next year be looking at an Irish title fight. I’m not returning to the ring just to experience pro boxing, I’m back to try and achieve something. I’ve had a great amateur career and won a lot. I could retire and be happy but I want something different and I’ve a good four or five years left to give the pro game my all and lets see how far I can bring this,” said Donovan.
“I loved the pro atomosphere in the stadium, its very different what I’ve experience before, much more hungry and aggressive. They really want you to go for it, as soon as you land a punch you can hear the crowd and their voices raising. I makes you want to push forward and land two or three more. So, I really want to thank the crowd that came out to support me tonight, they really motivated me and I hope I can build on this momentum and bring the big night to Kildare,” beamed the former European bronze medallist.
Following the victory there was no time for Donovan to enjoy post-fight celebrations as he was whisked back to home so he could get some sleep and participate in the ‘Hell And Back’ run, Ireland’s toughest mental and physical endurance challenge, early on Sunday morning.
Donovan, will now join Bernard Dunne and Mick Dowling to assist Darragh Maloney with RTE’s boxing coverage for the upcoming Rio Olympics before returning to the pro ring for his second fight in September.