Headlining the potentially game-changing ‘Clash of the Titans’ card at the National Stadium, live on TG4, Donovan stopped the gallant Stephen McAfee with a perfect body shot in round four of their vacant title fight.
The Sallynoggin slugger was sent down to one knee by the hook and was unable to get back up, rising gingerly as ‘nine’ ticked by and David Irving would wave the fight off.
Having made a stellar start to pro life since his surprise move in 2016, Donovan endured a nightmare 2018. Finger and shoulder injuries restricted him to just two outings versus weak journeymen and, at 33 and with the clock ticking, the Kildare veteran chose to jump straight into an Irish title fight to start the year off – and the risk would pay off, with Donovan looking better than ever as he claimed his biggest win.
Since turning pro in May 2017 – on a Donovan undercard – McAfee has done things differently. ‘Showtime’ Stephen has been keen to be the centre of attention, emerging from an epic two-fight series with Cork’s Colin O’Donovan wih the BUI Celtic super featherweight title before seeing an Irish title fight with Feargal McCrory fall through at late notice.
Always willing to risk it, McAfee elected to move down to take on skilled southpaw Donovan but the jump in levels proved to be just too much.
The Dubliner’s face was reddened almost immediately, Donovan peppering him with discombobulating shots from the off. However, it was the lilywhite’s bodywork that was most damaging.
McAfee tried to press in the second but, in addition to his fast hands which bloodied his opponent’s nose, Donovan was showing fast feet too, dancing around his rival, evading the wide hooks and looking very impressive in the process.
A bodyshot at the start of the third really took the wind out of McAfee’s sails but, to his credit, Showtime Stephen continued to rumble forward, taking lots, but proving his danger in the corner at the close with a salvo that seemed to buzz Donovan.
The end, however, would come just a couple of minutes later as a hook sunk into the mid-rift of McAfee which brought a sudden end to the fight.
Donovan now improves to 9(5)-0 and will hope to move into European title contention soon as he looks to make the most of his late charge.
The brave McAfee drops to 5(2)-1(1)-1 but still has many, many potential fights to have on the domestic scene.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti