Eric Donovan [15(8)-2(2)] has secured a much-coveted shot at a European title.
The European Boxing Union have ordered the Kildare fighter to trade leather with Khalil El Hadri [13(7)-1(0) for the vacant EBU EU featherweight title.
The European governing body has given both teams until Wednesday, July 6 to come to a promotional arrangement, and if terms can’t be agreed the bout will go to purse bids.
It’s massive news for the popular southpaw who set himself a continental goal when turning over and reaffirmed his desire to fight for a blue strap when declaring 2022 could be his last year in the sport.
The 36-year-old is now guaranteed a shot at a European title and could now add pro European honours to the European bronze medals he won at amateur level in his next fight.
The EU title is not to be confused with the EBU Europe title, the famous blue belt only 15 Irish fighters have won. It’s the main belt’s younger brother but is a prestigious trinket in its own right and a stepping stone to the real continental crown. Indeed, it provides a top-five EBU ranking and mandatory status for the EBU belt.
The likes of Paulie Hyland and Andy Murray used it to set up their European title fights with Willie Casey and Gavin Rees respectively.
Standing between the St Michaels Athy graduate and the coveted title is former French Champion El Hadri.
The Parisians record doesn’t look too scary, he has dealt with lower-level opposition quite emphatically but has only fought above six rounds twice, once when winning the French title in 2019 and in a French title defeat last year.
It will be interesting to see if promoter Mark Dunlop tries to bring the fight to Ireland. Donovan’s sponsors had explored the idea of providing the finances to make a home European title fight possible and may be able to help in that regard.
The Pascal Collins trained fighter and respected pundit has also previously said he felt a European title fight may tempt TV to get on board and that’s something that may also be explored.