The Kildare native has been heralded by some as the type of fighter and indeed character that can attract casual fans to the sport.
The RTÉ pundit has amateur pedigree, a profile developed both in and out of the ring, is clean cut, speaks well, and has talent.
They are traits that the St Michael’s Athy BC graduate have always had, but not traits a wider audience has seen considering Donovan has mostly populated the small hall circuit since turning over in 2016.
That all changes this weekend when ‘Lilywhite Lightening’ fights Stephen McAfee for the vacant Irish super featherweight title on the ‘Clash of the Titans’ card at the National Stadium on Saturday night.
The bout will top TG4’s third TV bill and, if figures for their first two shows are anything to go by Donovan will get exposed to an audience north of a quarter of a million.
That kind of exposure for that kind of talent could be game changing for the ambitious 33-year-old suggests Boxing Ireland’s Sharpe.
“Eric is back now. Eric is already a name, but if he performs against Ste and impresses he probably becomes the number one domestic prospect boxing at home,” Sharpe told Irish-Boxing.com.
“It’s going to be a tough fight and I don’t think it’s a given he will win, but should he perform he will be on the path to becoming a bigger name.”
Fighting on terrestrial TV worked wonders for the profiles of Roy Sheahan and Ray Moylette, but considering Sheahan has all but retired and Moylette has yet to return to the ring since his Castlebar outing, it remains to be seen if it’s more than profile that is positively influenced.
There would be no point in having a known name if you can’t secure them progressive fights.
Sharpe notes that there is a plan in place for Donovan and the Dubliner believes this Saturday night could be the spark that ignites his career.
He outlined that “if Eric wins this we can look at this maybe we can do what was done with Ray Moylette and look at those ranking titles. TV will be a help in that regard or if this show does massive tickets it makes things easier going forward.”
“It is one fight at a time, but Eric has the quality and the class TG4 will see that for themselves. Irish fight fans will see that too and then you don’t know how it might snowball.”
Of course, Sharpe will have to sit on his hands on fight night as he is also quite involved in the career of McAfee.
While Donovan is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the Boxing Ireland stable, the fearless McAfee has become an increasingly major part of the Celtic Clash series over the past year and a half and the only fighter to feature on all six such shows during this time.
Sharpe pointed out that “we promote Stephen as well and I know it’s a tough fight. Stephen is young and hungry. He will be bigger than Eric on the night and Eric has been out for a while. Eric hasn’t boxed in over a year which might be a factor.”
“Stephen has developed through fighting and through tough fights. I think Stephen is dangerous in this fight.”
“He took calculated risks. We promote Ste and Jonathan Lewins manages him but he has managed him very well. Colin O’Donovan was a calculated risk. I don’t believe in throwing fighters to the wolves over to Sky, but Ste is a good example of taking calculated risks, 50/50 fights or 45/55.”
“I look after Ste in this one and Leonard looks after Eric.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)
Tickets for ‘Clash of the Titans’ cost €40 (general), €60 (ringside), and €100 (VIP) and are available from the boxers involved or Ticketmaster (CLICK HERE).