The fact he did it in Rocky Balboa style added to Eric Donovan’s Rocky moment.
The Kildare fighter fulfilled his continental dream when he buckled the EBU European Union title around his waist on Saturday night.
It’s the victory that means the world to the 37-year-old and one he would have celebrated regardless of the manner in which it was achieved.
However, because it came after an extremely tense, equally exciting, and massively grueling 12 rounds was cause for a double celebration for the former amateur standout.
The fact the Kildare southpaw, who edged French star Khalil El Hadri at the Europa Hotel, live on TG4, had to navigate tricky waters to conquer Europe wasn’t lost on him. Indeed, speaking post-fight it was something he was extremely proud of and something that added to the victory for the Pascal Collins-trained fighter.
“I’m a bit speechless now at the moment. I’m overwhelmed, I’m honoured, I’m thrilled, I’ve made a dream come true,” Donovan said when speaking to Boxing Bants soon after having his hand raised.
So Many fighters like to call themselves Celtic Warrior but very few can live up to That Title except for this Man/Warrior @ericdonovanbox 🥊☘ So Proud of His Performance Determination Never say Die Spirit & throughout all this he kept his Composure Enjoy your Success Champ🏆💚 pic.twitter.com/fB17HzKcow— Packie Collins (@packycollins) September 25, 2022
“I’ve always dreamed about nights like this, ever since I was a young kid, I always thought about classic boxing fights. Ones that are like stories that have different chapters.
“Ones where fighters go down, they get up, they show resilience, they show resolve, they dig down to the soles of their boots, they have to overcome a lot of adversity, all of that.
“These are the classic fights and you often wonder what it would be like to be involved in one of them. I think I just was involved in one of them tonight. I learned a lot about myself out there.”
The veteran is known for his boxing brain and his unique skill set but had to show as much guts as guile to ensure he achieved his dream live on terrestrial tv.
In fact, the Athy BC graduate claims his battling spirit was his main asset in the fight. Donovan believes his heart broke that of his opponents, suggesting the will of the tough French operator was shattered when he seen the Celtic Warrior Gym fighter recover and respond when put under pressure.
“I knew I was up against a serious fighter. He was a serious unit as well, he was in great nick, great shape. But there were times in the fight where I felt like I broke his heart,” Donovan explained.
This picture speaks a 1000 words. New European Feather Weight Champion #brotherlove @ericdonovanbox @SportTG4 @packycollins @EddieHearn @kenegan30 @lauralfc @roisiningle @PictureofTheDay @IrishTimesSport #Boxing #europeanchampion #featherweight pic.twitter.com/LdjixMxNvJ— Maggie Owens (@maggiemoon02) September 25, 2022
“Even though I was 10 years his senior, and he probably looked at me and saw my last two fights against Zelfa Barrett and
[Robiesy] Ramirez and getting knocked out, he probably thought he had the power, and he did have the power to be fair to him.
“He could really whack and he probably thought he could take me out as well. But there’s just something inside me. There’s a burning desire to succeed. This reluctance to quit. This unbelievable tenacity to just fight it out, to keep going.”