The British featherweight division is buzzing but an invader from across the water is coming. Atop the pile, Josh Warrington defeated Kid Galahad in Leeds but, beyond this, there is a thriving domestic scene. However, there’s a man from Ireland who believes he has the beating of all of them and his assault on Britannia begins June 22nd.
Kildare’s Eric Donovan is the reigning Irish featherweight champion and is looking to expand, starting on the Hellraiser show at the famous York Hall weekend which has been dubbed the ‘Irish Invasion’. Part of the Irish amateur team that enjoyed unprecedented success around the turn of the decade, Donovan won European bronze in 2010, European Union bronze in 2009, five Irish Elite Senior titles, the World Series of Boxing in 2012, and holds wins over countless big names.
Taking a number of years out of the game – in which time he earned a qualification in counselling – Donovan was tempted back into the pro side of the sport by Leonard Gunning, an Irishman living in London, and the timeless talent has since become the crown jewel of the Boxing Ireland Promotions stable which has gone from strength to strength since the partnership began.
Entering the pros late, Donovan turns 34 next month but the slick southpaw is a pure boxer with few miles on the clock. Smart combinations and impeccable footwork forged in the famous St Michael’s Athy gym and honed by Olympic silver medallist Ken Egan make ‘The Lilywhite Lightning’ a nightmare to fight and he feels he can make a dent in Britain having blasted his way to domestic dominance in Ireland with a fourth-round bodyshot KO win over Stephen McAfee back in March to claim the Irish featherweight title.
While Ireland is blessed with fighters, the boxers themselves are not often blessed with opportunities and Donovan has always anticipated a migration abroad to finish his career. His outing in Bethnal Green will be the start and he is looking to make an instant impression before targeting notable names.
Donovan said that “I’m just looking forward to it, to build my experience because I think I’m going to have to travel for big fights in the very near future. It will be a good chance for me and my coaches to get that experience of travelling away as a team, doing the weight, staying away together as a team, and going through all the processes as a professional boxer and a professional team.”
The venue, too, is important for Donovan, a student of the game who is also a well-respected pundit in Ireland. He notes how “anybody I’ve ever spoken to about boxing over the years, they’ve always spoken about the York Hall and what kind of an atmosphere the York Hall is. The National Boxing Stadium in Ireland, when it’s full, it will take a fair venue to beat that, but I’ve heard so many people that I respect say that the York Hall, when it’s full, that the atmosphere is electric, that the tension is palpable. I really want to get in there and fight in that hall for that reason and also because it’s an iconic hall, a lot of my heroes, boxing greats, have all fought there – Henry Cooper, Frank Bruno, Ricky Hatton, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, they’ve all boxed there, Katie Taylor as well. It will be great to follow in their footsteps.”
“Preparation has gone great, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve a good crowd coming over and I’ve a lot of family and friends over there too that are going to be making the trip down. There’s a lot of Irish in London. I think it’s going to be a special night, a special atmosphere, and I’m ready. It’s going to be a great night. All I wanted to do when I turned pro was to create memories, lasting memories, and hopefully June 22nd is going to be one.”
There are a limited amount of tickets available for ‘The Irish Invasion’ on June 22nd. Tickets cost £40 (unreserved) and £70 (ringside) and can be booked on Universe.com or by calling 07985646187.