A 2018 which was ravaged by injury has given way to a TV opportunity to start this year and the Kildare featherweight wants to take his chance.
At 33 years of age, Donovan can’t afford to hang around, has elected to go straight into an Irish title fight with Dubliner Stephen McAfee, and doesn’t plan to wilt under any pressure.
The ‘Clash of the Titans’ headliner will play out live on TG4 from the National Stadium on Saturday March 30th and Donovan aims to use the national title fight and terrestrial TV exposure as a springboard to bigger things – namely European champion and familiar face Kiko Martinez.
It’s arguably a risk for Donovan who has not fought since July and will be stepping into the competitive ring for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery but the Athy fighter is backing himself.
‘Lilywhite Lightning’ explained to Irish-Boxing.com that “it’s a position that I deserve to be in and it’s one that I’ve been thinking about for a very long time – I’m going to grasp it, enjoy it, and savour every moment. The preparations are tough but I’m loving it.”
“I’m definitely going for it. I look at it as an amazing opportunity and I also look at it as a very competitive fight against someone who’s been in domestic clashes already, someone who’s dealt with that pressure and overcome, someone who’s an all-action fighter and has a lot of strengths he’s bringing in with him to the ring.”
BUI Celtic champion and Irish title mandatory McAfee will bring a rough and tough challenge – and one which Donovan respects.
The European and EU bronze medallist noted how Sallynoggin’s McAfee “has physical strengths. He has a bang, he has a punch, he has endurance, he knows that he’s going to bring something to the table.”
“He might not be as skilful as me, he might not have the same ring intellect as me but he brings his own bag of tools and I’ve got to be very aware of that and prepare. That’s all I can do, prepare, not worry about him.”
Whether you call it a risk or not, the fight does offer substantial reward.
There’s the Irish title but there is also the profile. A headline fight on terrestrial TV – and all the associated publicity – will build both and it’s something that the savvy southpaw is well aware of.
“How do you become a household name?” he asks.
“Well, you’ve got to be in every house.”
“How do you get into every house? Get on to the TV because every house has one!”
“Social media and all, it’s great, but social media still has its own cliques. Soccer fans follow football, boxing fans follow boxing, but everyone has terrestrial TV and everyone at home on a Saturday night will be flicking around the channels and when you pop up in someone’s sitting room, people know you.”
With Donovan’s amateur pedigree and his previous exposure as an analyst on RTÉ, he is firmly the A-side in terms of profile and the man in line for a star-making experience a-la Roy Sheahan and Ray Moylette last year.
McAfee knows this, and ‘Showtime Steve’ would claim at the press conference last Friday that the pressure was on Donovan.
Donovan agrees, sort of, but it is far from an issue for him.
The St Michael’s Athy graduate, now trained by Olympic hero Kenny Egan at the Macho Gym in Dublin, outlined how “there’s always an expectation.”
“Everything I do, I want to be the best at it. If I go in to do a fitness class, I want it to be the best fitness class, if I go to do an interview, I want it to be a good interview, if I go into a school to give a talk to kids, I really want to give the best impact.”
“Everything that I do in my training is about me shining on the night, I don’t need Stephen to turn around and tell me ‘the pressure’s on you’ because every day I go to work it’s always about being the best Eric Donovan and putting on the best Eric Donovan performance that I can.”
Kildare Boxing is proudly supported by Liffey Crane Hire
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)