Earlier this month talk intensified surrounding the southpaw who was said to be strongly considering an early move to the paid ranks after his flash and effective approach caught the eye of a number of promoters around the world.
It now seems, having explored a number of options, the 20-year-old, who won everything at national level as a teenager as well as a World Junior silver medal, will almost certainly ditch the vest.
According to multiple sources on the Limerick scene, two major promoters are leading the pack chasing Donovan’s signature. These are a big American outfit and their UK equivalent – who have both apparently put appealing offers on the table and it’s now just down to who the fighter earmarked for stardom feels can guide him better.
It’s understood that the American promotional giant is slightly favoured by Donovan’s team at present but, with a newborn at home, working with a UK-based promoter with a foothold in the American market may sway the slick operator.
Fellow Limerick southpaw Andy Lee is said to have helped the decorated amateur and advised him with regard to the next step.
The former middleweight world champion had previously said during TG4’s Elite Senior finals broadcast, that “I’ve been contacted about him, there’s a lot of people in the professional world who know him, know his name. His name’s been ringing out for many years because he’s won everything underage.”
“I’ve already been contacted in the build-up to this fight about him by several guys in America and England about him. They want to know about him, they want to get my opinion about him, and I’ve been singing his praises.”
“He’ll be offered a lot of money to turn professional and, had he got the right decision tonight he might have stayed for the Olympics.”
When speaking with regard to the ‘right decision’, Lee was referencing the National Elite final back in February.
The OLOL talent finished runner-up here to reigning champ and EU bronze medallist Kieran Molloy – who is also on the radar of big promoters. Donovan subsequently lost out in Last 16 of the European Under-22 Championships to Russian home favourite Vakhid Abbasov. These were two decisions were verdicts he objected to – and two occurrences which seem to have pushed him in the pro direction.
In recent weeks Donovan, older brother of European Junior gold medallist Edward, has been training hard – but outside of IABA structures.
The Munster youngster has been pegged as a Tokyo Olympic gold medal hope and the stylish southpaw pledged that he would compete for Ireland at the 2020 Games even after his loss in the Elite Senior final.
However, following his defeat at the Euro U22s, and with his progress dependant on Molloy NOT qualifying for the Olympics this year, the pros seemingly seemed too good to turn down for a fighter labeled ‘Ireland’s best up-and-coming talent’ by Mick Conlan.
Of course, nothing has been officially confirmed as of yet but further developments are expected in the coming weeks.
While he is not currently top of the pecking order of Irish welterweights, Donovan’s defection would be a major blow to the IABA and HPU boss Bernard Dunne who are keen to keep the island’s talents in the vest as long as possible.
Should Donovan make the move he would join a relatively small band of Irish fighters signed to major promoters – Katie Taylor, Jono Carroll, and TJ Doheny with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions, Jason Quigley, Spike O’Sullivan, and Aaron McKenna with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, Mick Conlan with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Caoimhin Agyarko and Lewis Crocker with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, and Carl Frampton who is co-promoted by the latter two.
Photo Credit: WMC Photography