Former world champion Amir Khan believes the schooling and skills Steven Donnelly [5(1)-0] picked up in an impressive amateur career will be key in securing him Ultimate Boxxer victory tomorrow night.
‘The Donn’, who like Khan is an Olympian, having represented Ireland in Rio, brings real pedigree to the fifth installment of a tournament that follows the same model as Prizefighter and Ireland’s Last Man Standing.
Khan believes that pedigree will stand the Ballymena man in good stead and will see him win the £16,000 (approx) cash prize and the Golden Robe at the Indigo in the O2, live on BT Sports.
Donnelly will glove off against fellow unbeaten light middleweight Ish O’Connor in the quarter-finals and could eventually compete against any of Joshua Ejakpovi, Kingsley Egbunike, Kaan Hawes, Lenny Fuller, Lewis Syrett and Sean Robinson if he progresses through the tournament.
The Athens 2004 silver medal winner expects the opposition to try and over power and bully ‘The Donn’, but is confident the Commonwealth Games medal winner will have the tools to deal with the assaults.
“Amateur pedigree is going to be important but this is professional boxing, with smaller gloves and no headguards, it is a much more brutal sport,” Khan told SunSport.
“Casual boxing fans like a bully, they like to see the big man who marches forward and looks for the knockout over the more technical and skilful boxer.
“But Donnelly will have boxed guys that have tried to bully and overpower him in the amateurs, so he will be used to it and will have plenty of tricks to overcome it.
“I had a very amateur style when I turned professional but I was fast and accurate and that is how my knockouts came.”
Donnelly remains confident of victory, but is aware a tough nights work lays ahead.
The new to the pro scene fighter was warned entering the tournament would prove a risk, but it’s a chance he was willing to take knowing big rewards await.
“I am hoping a big win at this tournament will lead me way up the ladder for a big shot at one of the titles that progresses me further. I need to be in the bigger fights sooner rather than later,” the eager to move forward light middleweight explained earlier in the week.