The popular featherweight endured a difficult 2018 as injury prevented him from being able to take the kind of progressive he felt ready for. The risk-reward analysis just wasn’t favourable for a fighter with a massive desire to kick on.
Yet, the Kildare fighter claims he is now fighting fit and ready to make his talent tell at continental level.
Kiko Martinez, a name that pops up throughout recent Irish boxing history, is currently the blue strap owner and a clash with the former world champion would be a bit off for a fighter who has struggled to tempt domestic foes into the ring.
However, the Boxing Ireland fighter says he is done with journeymen and wants fights and opponents that will make a European title fight inevitable.
“I see myself as a European class boxer. I definitely think I can win a European title,” Donovan told Irish-boxing.com after sparring Stevie McKenna in Macho Gym this week.
“I am not here saying, nor have I ever said, I am going to win a world title because I turned pro at 30.”
“If I get there [the European title] that will be my Everest, that would be happy days, but that doesn’t mean I’d retire. Anything after that would be a bonus,” he added before calling on his management team to provide a pathway to make his dream possible.
“I do believe I can bring international fights, European championship fights back to Ireland. How do we get there? You probably have to ask my manager [Leonard Gunning] that.”
“I am training away and I think I am doing my end. He has promised me big fights this year and I believe we can get them. My job is to come into the gym and train hard. I have to get myself ready, he has to put the fighters in front of me and then it’s my job to perform and beat them.”
Charting a potential path, including a possible big fight next, Donovan noted how “I am probably two or three fights away from a European title fight, but I need those fights to be scalps as such, fights that progress me toward that level and hopefully I get them in 2019.”
“I feel like I am done with the journeyman feel. There is talk of some decent opponents, I don’t want to name anyone now, but a good fight should be lined up for me for the early part of 2019. Nothing is finalised so I am not researching the fighter or anything like that.
“For me now I am just working away with Joe Clifford and Kenneth Egan, making sure I am in a good position to win any big fights.”
Having worked with Dom O’Rourke, Gerry Storey, and Andy Lee, Donovan is now working with Clifford and Egan.
It’s a more long-term arrangement and a more traditional link-up, and the Athy native believes he is reaping the reward.
“I am loving it,” he said of his new team.
“We have a new plan and they have taken a lot of stress and work load off me. The are organising my sparring and my training plan. I was doing all that myself since I turned pro. That’s not the way to do it. They have alleviated the stress off me so I can focus on what I should be focused on and that’s boxing.”
‘Lilywhite Lightening’ is hoping for a big 2019, but also revealed 2018 could have been the last time we seen him in a ring.
Donovan took an extended period off with hand issues but it was frozen shoulder at the tail end of 2018 left him considering stepping away for good.
However, after some serious rehab and perseverance from the Kildare man he is back to full health.
“I am delighted. There was times when I was thinking ‘that’s me gone’. I was thinking what an awful way to go out of boxing. It was in my head, honestly. I was so bad that I couldn’t lift my arm never mind throw a punch. Now it’s, grand no problems at all,” he added before discussing his rehab.
“The rehab was excruciating. I had to do rehab five times a day at eight minutes a time. I had to put my shoulder through real pain and I had to persevere through that pain. I was told if I didn’t go through that pain the frozen shoulder could set back in at any time.”
“I am never going to take anything for granted again. The mountains and the hurdles I had to climb over to keep this dream alive are massive – Don’t forget I am paying for this as well.”
“It was financial stress so there is a lot of pressure on myself and my girlfriend who has gone back to do a Masters. She has been a great help to me and has motivated me to keep fighting through the pain. My sponsors have helped too and only for them I would be retired. I am taking nothing for granted again.”
Kildare Boxing is proudly supported by Liffey Crane Hire
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)