On Saturday night he stood blood-soaked in the National Stadium with his arm raised and receiving an ovation from the entire crowd.
O’Donovan [1(1)-1(1)-1] was given the opportunity to face Stephen McAfee over six rounds, with the winner of the bout going on to fight for the BUI Celtic super featherweight title.
For those that know him, it is no surprise that O’Donovan jumped at the chance and the Cork boxer worked his way into the bout and boxed smart to win rounds – before the fantastic toe-to-toe final round.
In the end, the fight was ruled a 58-58 draw, with calls from almost all for an immediate rematch.
The happy-go-lucky O’Donovan certainly enjoyed his night, and paid tribute to his opponent afterwards.
“Fair play to him, he did a great job, great fight,” he told Irish-Boxing.com.
“I knew he was a good, strong body puncher. I knew he was going to come and put the pressure on me.”
“He had good tight hooks, good head movement, good bodywork as well and I had to keep the hands low and that allowed him to go up top.”
“I needed to work more on my footwork, keep on the outside, keep moving – but it’s good to trade too, to give the crowd what they want… and me too!”
The draw seemed almost a fitting result following an epic sixth, and O’Donovan described how “I would have had it the same,”
“It was a back and forth fight, what you want to see. He busted up my nose at the end but I would have still had it a draw regardless.”
“When he blew my nose open at the end I thought that would give him the win, I was expecting him [referee Emile Tiedt] to raise his [McAfee] hand, so when they said it was a draw it was like ‘woo-hoo! I’ll be back for a rematch!'”
A rematch for the BUI Celtic title looks likely to take place in the new year – whether it be a perfect chief support for Celtic Clash 5 or 6, or even to inject some excitement into the early part of Katie Taylor’s homecoming undercard.
O’Donovan has chosen the career-path of an away fighter, but he desperately wants a return innings with McAfee for the belt.
The Youghal-based fighter described how “it was put in front of us to spur us on, now we’ll probably do the rematch for the BUI Celtic title too.”
“I’d say it will be an exciting rematch too.”
“It’s something I definitely want, and it’s something I know he’ll want because I was talking to a few of his buddies and he feels like he got screwed for with the draw.”
O’Donovan himself feels that, with notice, he can give a much better showing the next time he faces McAfee.
On Saturday he explained how “I had to be wary about how I used my energy so I didn’t completely gas.”
“I was going from three rounds to four rounds to six rounds, it was something different.”
“I was told last week. I don’t want to say anything about him – but if I had a full camp I’d have done a better job, hopefully got the stoppage.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)