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Introducing: Paul McDonnell

Saturday March 30th will be the start in terms of pro boxing’s relationship with Paul McDonnell but, for the fighter himself, it will mark the end of a long hard road.

While the latest talent to come out of Clondalkin has never thrown a punch in a pro ring he has has more miles on the clock in terms of battles out of the ring as Arturo Gatti did in it.

After a turbulent time six years ago the former Neilstown BC man found himself a bookies regular and things got so bad he ballooned in weight, deflated his bank balance,, and ended up in a state of depression.

Indeed, things got so bad that the Steven O’Rourke-trained soon-to-be-debutant admits suicide was starting to become a regular thought.

A visit to a hypnotist as recently as last August saw the Dubliner turn a corner and once he had debts and his head fully clear the Collinstown man returned to the gym and hasn’t looked back.

Ironically the troubles started for the St Michael’s fighter after he thought he had turned pro in England six years ago, only to find out his 2-0 came on the unlicencsed semi-pro circuit.

Frustrated and somewhat disillusioned he returned home and fell into a downward spiral that he hopes his debut will put officially put an end to.

“I basically got myself into a bad place when I left Liverpool six years ago after my last fight over there. I became badly addicted to gambling,” the honest new pro told Irish-Boxing.com.

“I was gambling every cent I had and was spending every minute in the bookies. I became very depressed an put on massive amounts of weight. I hit 122kg at my heaviest. I was contemplating suicide and all, I wanted to stop but just couldn’t get myself to.”

“Then a mate of mine brought me to a hypnotist in August and I stopped completely. After a few months of clearing debts and getting my act together I went back to your man for motivation on the 8th of November. I went down to Steven’s the next day an I haven’t looked back since.”

McDonnell will now turn over after just four months of training on the ‘Clash of the Titans’ card set for TG4 and the National Stadium in Dublin on March 30th.

He admits punching for pay will be the realisation of a lifetime dream.

Indeed, so desperate is the former Crumlin and Neilstown amateur to let shots go in a pro ring that he reveals he would do it for free.

“I always wanted to turn over. I was almost there in Liverpool six years ago. It doesn’t matter to me if it is paid or not I just cannot wait to swing that first punch with a 10oz glove again,” he adds.

It’s not just the mental state of the fighter, who lost to Conrad Cummings in the National Elite championships and has had Leinster and underage success as an amateur, that needed to be worked on since last Summer. Physically the aggressive puncher wasn’t ready for sparring never mind a professional bow.

Discussing how he address that he said, “Clean eating, I’m after been sponsored by the prep master and the weight has been falling off at almost 3kg a week. I also haven’t had a fizzy drink since I went to the D4 Clinic for hypnosis.

“I have been training more than anyone starting out trains. I have a good amateur background so I think a couple of four rounders and I will be fine with to move up to six rounds. I’ve been getting quality sparing from top level lads down in Michael’s also.”

It’s a start for the Clondalkin man, but he notes there is more work to be done, stressing he wants be down to middleweight by the time the year is out.

“I’m hoping to do two fights at light heavy before cutting down to middleweight again. Get maybe another two fights at middle this year. Then next year get a few decent fights against better opponents. Hopefully an Irish title fight.”

It’s a story that should win another new to the game pro some followers and that number can only multiply if the promotional free agent’s fighting style is as exciting as he says.

“I’m an explosive fighter. I walk forward an throw punches. I’m a big puncher so hopefully I’ll have a few exciting stoppages this year.”


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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