The Cork fighter, following an epic six-round draw in December, was edged out on a split-decision for the BUI Celtic super featherweight title by Stephen McAfee in March in what is sure to be the Irish Fight of the Year.
While many fighters rebuild from a title loss in a gradual fashion, O’Donovan is going straight back in with another title fight and drops down two weights to face Carl McDonald for the vacant BUI Celtic super bantamweight belt on the ‘Celtic Clash 6’ bill at Good Counsel GAA Club in Drimnagh.
That’s not to say O’Donovan isn’t rebuilding.
‘The Rebel Rouser’ has made changes ahead of the title assault and has linked up with a specialised boxing coach in Lee Cairns – father of European Schoolboys silver medallist Stephen – of Legacy ABC.
Elder brother Michael had performed corner duties previously but O’Donovan feels he will benefit from a more tactical approach and explained how “I don’t want to give away my game plan entirely but I’m training with a proper boxing coach now and he has a game plan. He wants me to make sure that I do the game plan and impose myself on him and make sure that every single round is won and that there isn’t doubt in anyone’s mind that I won. I’m not looking for the KO, just to go in there and dominate every minute of every round.”
“My brother is a professional Muay Thai fighter – we’re just fighters, really, through and through – he’s not really of a boxing background, it was more about just getting in and having a fight. The boxing coach I’m working with now has got the tactics and is making sure that every single thing I do in the gym is going to play a part on the night.”
The move down in weight, from 130lbs to 122lbs, also looks to be another benefit for O’Donovan who described how “I was meant to be campaigning at super bantamweight from the beginning but opportunities kept coming. I’ll fight at any weight. Super bantamweight, it’s the weight I have to be most disciplined for, I have to make sure that I’m eating right. For the last few fights I didn’t have to worry too much about my diet. Height-wise, I’m not too much bigger than him [McDonald] but in terms of muscle development I’m a different kettle of fish to him altogether.”
O’Donovan took his defeat to McAfee with good grace, accepting the scorecards despite a number of people arguing that he won the bout.
The former Togher amateur is hopeful of a rematch but and noted how “a lot of people won’t allow me to accept that I lost that fight. They’re telling me ‘no, no no, you won, you won that fight’ – but sure, look, it is what it is, just let it go. A lot of people want to see it back, see the trilogy with McAfee. I’d like to do it again. Neither one of us won definitively, neither one of us got the KO, let’s do it again, I’m willing to go in and put it on the line again and I’m sure he would be too.”
“All boxing should be like that, it should be for the fans, the fans want to see a good fight, they want to see two fellas go at it and give it their all. Not a lot of people want to see you beat up on a journeyman. They want to see people eager to get the win, willing to give it their all and that’s what I show every time I go in there.”
First though, he needs to get through McDonald before even considering a trilogy fight with McAfee – which Celtic Clash boss Leonard Gunning has stated would need a TV platform.
Both O’Donovan and McDonald are under the Boxing Ireland Promotions banner and the pair are well-acquainted with each other.
Unlike the second McAfee clash – which featured a heated build-up – there is almost a love-in between the two ‘fight anyone, anytime, anywhere’ men.
28-year-old O’Donovan outlined how “I’ve sparred Carl, I remember everything about it. We did six rounds, it was good craic, there was a small bit of back and forth, I was able to mess around, I was able to have a bit of fun. I respect him, I respect his trainers, they’re good people.”
“He’s a lot like myself, he’s in the fight game to fight, he’s willing to take opportunities at the drop of a hat. He took a fight in England at two days notice, that’s the sort of stuff you have to respect. He’s not like some lads who pick and choose, he’s willing to fight anybody and everybody and I’ve nothing but respect for the man. I can’t wait to get in there and have a good fight and then definitely we’ll be shaking hands afterwards.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)