Eric Donovan starts what could be the last year of his career next month.
Athy’s Irish featherweight champion is back in the ring for his twelfth professional fight and is adamant that 2020 will be a case of going big or going home.
Donovan takes on tough Spaniard Cristian Montilla in the headline fight of the big ‘Celtic Clash 10’ bill at the Devenish Venue in Belfast on Saturday February 1st and is determined to go on a run that sees him step up to the next level.
The 34-year-old explained how “I want a world ranking title or a European title by the end of 2020, this fight will nudge me in that direction. It will also show another side of my boxing because I haven’t been tested yet and I hope Montilla will change that. He is a good fighter, he is a winner, not a survivor, he comes to win and he has a good boxing brain. My most challenging hurdle in this journey awaits and it must be cleared!”
A former Spanish champion, Canary Islander Montilla is Donovan’s most decorated foe to date and once held Danish European titlist Dennis Ceylan to a draw. ‘Lilywhite Lightning’ has done his homework and notes how “I think he has some quality, he certainly knows how to handle himself.
“He has a good KO ratio too and a decent right hand. His standout performance is the draw with Ceylan and, to be fair, wasn’t a bad one. I’ll obviously present a different challenge than Ceylan, I see the faults and I’ll exploit them. I’m happy with the opponent and looking forward to a great fight. I just want to keep raising the bar and testing myself against good fighters.”
It hasn’t been an easy road for Donovan since sensationally returning from years in the boxing wilderness to turn pro in 2016. A five-time Elite champion and European and EU bronze medallist as an amateur, Donovan has had to slog and toil as a pro as he attempts to make it without big TV or promotional backing. There have been highlights, of course, such as winning the Irish title live on TG4 last March, but the veteran southpaw has already set the ultimatum that 2020 has to be his big breakthrough year or else he will step away from boxing.
The unbeaten Donovan outlines how “as I reflect on 2019, I have mixed feelings – the positive ones is that I became Irish champion on live TV and that will always be a special moment in our lives. The negative is that it could be also the last time I fight in the Republic of Ireland due to insurance costs which is a crying shame. But I went on the road twice as well and enjoyed those experiences.”
“After my last two fights which were in London and Glasgow, it’s nice to be back boxing on the island of Ireland. I put a lot of effort into every training camp and I can probably only do that three or four times a year, those ten-twelve week training camps and I need to make sure that, at the end of it, you’re not wasting time and that you’re progressing. I believe I am an elite level fighter and I want to be tested. We’re in a perfect position, now, to pounce. If there is an opportunity for me at super featherweight I’ll take that too. I will fight anyone from 57kg to 59kg. 2020 will be the year of the Lightning and I’m going to take and make some very bold and brave moves this coming year.”
‘Celtic Clash 10’ also features a clash between light welters Stephen Webb and Francy Luzoho as well as appearances from Kildare light welter Katelynn Phelan, Waterford super middle Rhys Moran, Dublin welter John Joyce, Cavan light middle Dominic Donegan, Sligo welter Aaron Gethins, West Belfast super middle Conor Doherty, Bray super bantam Sam Carroll, North Belfast light middle Owen O’Neill, Crumlin light middle Tony McGlynn, and Leixlip light welter Senan Kelly.
Tickets cost €40 (unreserved) or €55 (ringside) and can be bought from all the boxers on the bill. To buy from Eric Donovan, get in touch with him through his social media channels or drop into the Healthy Living Shop in Athy or Ultimate Fitness Gym in Ballymount, Dublin or via Universe.com.