The Limerick talent claimed the Irish under-22 welterweight title at the weekend, his tenth national triumph and what was step one of a plan that will see him end up as Ireland’s number one fighter by the end of the year.
The World Junior silver medalist temporarily stepped up to 60kg and defeated Michael Avetisian in Saturday’s final. He will now target the European under-22s next month before most likely returning to 64kg and the Irish scene for the National Elite Senior Championships in November.
It’s been a long time coming for Donovan who tells Irish-Boxing.com that “I’ve always been ready.”
“I’m sparring Seniors since I was 15 or 16 years old. I was sparring Steven Donnelly all last year, he was very, very strong. I’m used to strength. I box at 64kg, but if I was to move up to 69kg my strength is good, I can hurt fellas at 69kg, even in sparring.”
“I’ve been ready since I was 16 years old to take on Seniors. I’ve been sparring the best since I was 16 years of age.”
On Saturday Donovan claimed a unanimous decision win, hunting down his Glasnevin opponent.
The OLOL talent reflected on how “it was a good fight, a good opponent. We boxed last year and it was a good fight, he came forward. We had a close first round last year, he kept coming and I landed some good shots.”
“This year he changed up his gameplan, he started to move. I had an idea that he was going to move from a couple of his previous fights – he won the Intermediates at 69kg. So I knew what way he was going to box and that he was going to keep running.”
“I could have stayed in the centre of the ring and made it very awkward for him to hit me, but I kind of mixed it up a bit and moved forward.”
This desire to entertain is important for the 18-year-old who was left frustrated by criticisms of past performances.
Donovan, who scored five stoppages in ten bouts last year, described how “the fight before that, some people were saying that I didn’t perform well. I wanted to give them a bit more, a bit more enjoyment, something to get excited about.”
“I really wanted to hurt him [Avetisian] this time, I landed some good shots. Everyone’s friends outside the ring, but when you’re in there it’s a different ball game – he’s trying to beat me and I’m trying to beat him.”
Next up is the European U22s in Romania and Donovan is desperate for a gold. The Limerick fighter has been unfortunate over the years, losing three highly-disputed decisions in his past three major tournaments.
Donovan though is hopeful and confident that 2018 is his year and outlined how “I’m going to go at 69kg, get a couple of fights in, and hopefully get the gold medal and get ready for the Elites in November.”
“The last time I was out there I had a tough fight against a two-time world champion [Tugrulhan Erdemir], I thought I probably should have won – maybe everyone did.”
“The bigger the occasion, the bigger I rise. These championships are going to bring the best out of me. I’m going to keep working and see how it goes.”
The teenage talent has dreams of representing Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 – indeed he has been tipped by Mick Conlan for gold – and Donovan pinpoints the second of two National Elite Seniors to take place in 2018 as his breakthrough moment.
“The Seniors should be good,” he said. “That’s my main goal, to be Senior champion.”
“It’s all stepping stones, these Irish [U22] championships, these Europeans, I’m just getting closer to the Seniors because when you win the Seniors you have everything – Olympics, World Championships, the big boys, that’s where you want to be.”
Photo Credit: William McNamara – WMC Photography