Ultimate Boxxer has started to find a niche market in the boxing world. The three-round, three-fight format has proved popular and more people are tuning in on BT Sport.
One boxer was desperate to take part in the next edition, Ultimate Boxxer 5 at the O2 in London on September 20th. Not just any boxer but an Irish Olympian, Steven Donnelly.
“It was actually me that entered myself into the competition,” Donnelly exclusively told WBN.
“I simply mailed them on Instagram, Twitter Facebook, all the social media sites. I wanted to get on it, it’s a great opportunity, on BT Sport. So, yeah it’s all on me that got me into it.”
Donnelly isn’t expecting to feel the pressure of being the first Olympian to take part.
“Being the first Olympian they are going to be weary who I am but there’s no added pressure on me at all.” Donnelly said. “Maybe they are thinking that the pressures on me, maybe I’ll go in as favourite as well. Honestly, if I put the work in outside I’ll be confident going in and any the best man win. I’m looking forward to the fights.
“I think it’s a great format for boxing especially for ones who have just turned over. For me being an outstanding elite amateur, it’s the same kind of format (as an amateur), three rounds, so it’s all going to be go, go, go. Fast high paced. I’ll be ready for that. Just have to be smart.
“Yeah I think the format is good, it’s entertaining for the fans, the people watching, it’s all go. That’s what they want to see, why they pay their hard-earned money for, so it’s up to us to deliver.”
Has Donnelly taken note of any of the opponents?
“I haven’t seen any of the other fighters at all, I leave that to my coaches. Just seen them on the Ultimate Boxxer page, some are big, some are small, some are southpaw, that’s all.
“I don’t care, I’m used to all the different styles and I’ll adapt to what’s in front of me. I really don’t care who I get. I’ll be ready to fight whoever.
“Having had that outstanding amateur experience I would like to be fast-tracked as a pro. But this (Ultimate Boxxer) is no given, it’s risky, it’s hard. It’s risky for me entering it with only being 5-0 at this stage of my career.
“I believe I can win it. That’s why I put my name forward. All my focus is on this competition, one fight at a time.”
In his short pro career so far, Donnelly has fought at some iconic venues, Windsor Park, Madison Square Garden and the Ulster Hall.
“I’ve fought at some great venues. Windsor Park being my debut, I was very nervous though, I felt I done too much training for that fight. I was on early in the day as well so not many people there. That’s nothing to complain about, it was great to be on such a big stage.
“MSG was definitely the best so far. Just to say I have boxed there is unreal, i can say that until the day I die. I was on the undercard of Daniel Jacobs, something I’m proud of and something to thank MTK for.
“The Ulster Hall? I won six elite titles in four different weight categories there. The Ulster Hall is my hall, as I say, the Don’s hall. So I love the Ulster Hall.”
Boxing is enjoying a great period in Northern Ireland at the moment, with sold outs events and a plethora of top boxers making a name for themselves.
“Boxing in Northern Ireland is very popular especially with MTK holding regular shows at the Ulster Hall. Belfast being such a small place the talent is unreal. I’m from Ballymena so I’m representing the country boys. All in the talent for such a small place is great.”
Donnelly has come a far way from the 13 year old who first donned the gloves.
“I took up boxing as a hobby, Gerry Hamill, my coach as an amateur, my dad worked for him and he asked me down to the club one night and that’s what I done. And I haven’t looked back.
“I was 13, I was quite late to start compared to some. They saw I was talented straight away, within six weeks I won my first title.
“Ever since then I haven’t left the gym, non-stop, flat out. I just loved it since putting my first pair of gloves on.”
Mick Kane is a Staff Writer to World Boxing News. Follow Mick on Twitter @MickKaneMMA