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Eric Donovan outlines new old Euro vision

Eric Donovan [14(8)-2(2)] wants to bow out with a blue belt buckled firmly around his waist.

Having seen Plan B fail to deliver the Kildare fighter will now look to re-implement Plan A and has set his sights on a European title shot.

The famous EBU belt was the goal when the former amateur standout turned over and he came close to fighting for the gateway strap when he was mandated for the EU title.

However, the Pascal Collins trained talent was forced to pull out of a fight with Mario Alfano due to a rib injury and went a different route since.

Donovan explored away corner options on TV cards and suffered defeat to both Zelfa Barrett and Robeisy Ramirez.

He now has his sights set on a move back to European level and possibly becoming Ireland’s sixteenth European champion.

“I’m hoping that I get another shot at European level. A European title has always been my goal since I turned professional at 31 years of age,” Donovan explained.

“I came close to fighting for one last year and I ended up hurting my ribs. I was supposed to fly to Italy to fight Mario Alfano and I had to pull out of that fight on medical grounds.

“I got two chances to step up to world level in the middle of all that; one against Zelfa Barrett and one against Ramírez. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I would get a shot at world level. That wasn’t part of the plan.

“So when they were put to me, I could have said no, but I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go for this!’ This was dream come true stuff. Look, I nearly pulled it off against Barrett, I didn’t get close against Ramírez, but I’ve no regrets.

“But now the focus switches back to the initial plan, which was the European all along. Hopefully I can go out with a bang, that would be nice.”

The Mark Dunlop managed fighter, who tops an MHD redemption card on May 14, has impressed for the most part since turning over. Even in defeat to Barrett, he showed real class and high-level ability, enough for some to suggest he could cause top-end featherweights genuine problems.

However, Donovan believes to have had any chance of reaching world title level he would have had to have turned over much early than 31.

Almost morphing into his role as a respected pundit he surmises he needed more time to learn the pro ropes.

“To be honest, you need to be turning pro earlier. You need to be turning pro at around 24 or 25 I’d say and developing over that three year period, then really making your mark at around 28,” he adds.

“Around three years later, you should be fighting for the big titles. Because even the fight against Ramírez, if you look back at the sequence before the stoppage, I stepped in and I hit him a bodyshot and an uppercut up the middle to the head.

“If you watch my feet, I’m on my toes, there’s nothing in my punches. Then he counters with a punch and a hook which drives me back. It’s like his whole body hits me, because his feet are stuck to the ground flat.

“That’s the difference between his kind of development in the pro game towards mine. I’ve been conditioned as a computer scoring boxer in the amateur game for years; up on my toes, hitting and moving. I’ve done that for years and years.

“You can’t just unlearn all of that in a short turnaround. But look, an Irish title I won, a Celtic title I won, I’d love to finish up with a European, that would be lovely.

“But I’ve no real regrets about turning pro at the age I did because the Olympics was always where my focus was. Not professional boxing.”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com