Although he admits an EU title win would be the cherry on top of a surprise pro innings, Eric Donovan [15(8)-2(2)] argues there remains room for more decorations on top of his career cake.
The Kildare talent fights Khalil El Hadri [13(7)-1(0)] for the prestigious and vacant EU super featherweight title at the Europa Hotel on Saturday night.
Buckling a Continental strap around his waist via victory live on TG4 would justify the 37-year-old’s decision to turn pro at 31, an age most boxers start plotting an exit plan.
Indeed, it would be the kind of memorable victory that would allow Donovan to reflect on his career as a success. Although he points out it wouldn’t be a win he’d look to bow on.
“A win would mean everything. It would justify my return to the ring after three years after a semi-retirement. I turned professional just as I hit 31, most bow out of their careers at that age, not go into it,” Donovan told Kildare Now.
“It would be remarkable to reach that goal, for me it would be the cherry on top. Even though I have the Irish title and the Celtic title, I just feel like this would be my crowning moment. It would help me to be content with my career.”
‘He’s got a bit about him but he’s no Eric Donovan’ pic.twitter.com/CSr5HGvNFD— Irish-Boxing.com (@Irishboxingcom) September 21, 2022
It would prove a crowning moment and one that would allow 2 ‘Lilywhite Lightning’ to label his time in pro boxing a success – but it’s a win that opens a pathway to bigger crowns.
The EU title generally comes with EBU title mandatory status, so a victory over El Hadri, a fighter who was once seen as a massive prospect in France, could lead to the Donovan challenging for the famous blue strap and a title only 15 other Irish fighters have won.
The Pascal Collins trained Kildare man is well aware of that, and as a result, isn’t planning a ‘go out with a bang’ win on Saturday.
“I don’t want to look at this fight as my final fight or a last hurrah. Saying that I am under no illusions that I am in the final chapters of my career. But it also opens the possibility of other things, such as a big homecoming in Kildare. These possibilities are out there, a bigger chance then and maybe a bigger belt,” he explains.
“I am willing to talk about that but first things first, all eyes on September 24. That is where my focus is and any other potential discussion is just speculation. This next one is the mission.”