If Eric Donovan is forced to retire because of a lack of opportunities in 2020 it will be one of the biggest injustices in Irish boxing history.
The Kildare fighter put on a performance in the Devenish on Saturday night that proved not only is he deserving of a bigger stage, but that he would excel on it.
The late to the pro game Kildare favourite simply put on a boxing masterclass on the top of Celtic Clash 10. It was a clinic and sweet science lesson as he proved he is at very least worthy of a European title shot.
Granted people will point out his opponent, Joseafat Reyes wasn’t just a late replacement, but a fighter that took 11 losses into the headline bout.
Others may be aware Reye’s record is misleading, but argue it’s a fight any domestic super feather should and would most likely win – and they may be right.
Yet still there was something above special about this display. The fighter, who has more than once threatened to retire if the big fights don’t come his way soon, was on a complete different level on Saturday night.
The Boxing Ireland southpaw fought at a pace usually set aside for three amateur rounds from the first round on and threw that many accurate shots he would have broken the computer scoring counter system that was in place during part of his successful vest wearing days. Even more impressive it wasn’t just pressure for the sake of it, the Irish champion was educated, skilled and at times flamboyant as he forced the action.
The respected pundit showed also showed more variety than 10 series of Britian’s Got Talent and showed he is spotlight ready, capable and deserving.
There was a statement element to the win outside of the performance too. The Athy BC graduate became the first man to stop the 26-year-old tough man, trumping former world and European champions in the process.
Having not had too much time to study his short notice foe Donovan done his opponent homework in the first half of the first stanza.
You could visibly see the Kildare native gauging the Mexican’s ability and nigh on calculating his metrics RoboCop style.
Once he had his bearings he moved up the gears and for the second 90 seconds showing the kind of schooled skill set that made him such a successful amateur.
Reyes was brave in the second, certainly game and showed in patches why he is a feared journey men.
However, it was clear Donovan was way to good for his twelfth career foe, indeed it was clear he was too good for a small hall show.
The Athy fighter’s accuracy was sensational and ring intelligence standout as began breaking down a fighter that was hard done by against Joe Ham, took a round of Ryan Burnett and took Paul Butler the distance in his last fight.
The third round had saw every combination in the book brought out. The Mexican looked to be feeling it as Donovan added pace and power to the panache. Again his accuracy dropped jaws ringside whilst almost dislocating that of his foes.
The home fighter flirted with the stoppage twice during the 3 minute innings but credit to Reyes he isn’t one to go down easy.
The fourth was similar with Donovan pressing behind a brilliant southpaw jab and bamboozling his opponent with a variety show. The Mexican did attempt a few Hail Marys to ease the pressure, but his ambition was punished as the Kenneth Egan trained fighter showed his counter punching ability.
The fifth saw a continuation of fast handed and classy combinations and people started to comment on the pace of proceedings, whilst wondering if the late replacement could take much more punishment. He could and he did!
There was genuine awe by some respected boxing family members ringside when the masterclass continued through the sixth.
However there was also respect for the Mexican who must have shipped 100 on the button shots in each stanza. It also became clear the Spanish based fighter was too tick skulled for his own good and was only going to be stopped on his feet.
34- year-old Donovan seemed to realize as much and after twice buckling Reyes legs he jumped on the away fighter and let his hands go.
Hugh Russell Jr had no choice but the stop the fight and he jumped in just before the towel could be thrown in.
The win see’s Donovan improve to 12-0 while Reyes drops to 8-12-1.
Kildare boxing is proudly sponsored Liffey Crane Hire.