“If he can do that, why can’t I?” – Steven Donnelly seeks switch to the fast-track

Steven Donnelly [4(0)-0] is not one for tradition.

The Ballymena light middleweight takes his first step up on Friday night but is keen to be moved faster, much faster.

The Rio Olympian boxes for the fifth time as a pro at the Ulster Hall, taking on game Nicaraguan Edwin Palacios [12(8)-7(2)-1] over six rounds, his first time being scheduled beyond four.

It’s a positive move but it is hardly a match-up that jumps off the running order – especially considering Donnelly’s pedigree and experience in the five-round World Series of Boxing.

‘The Donn’ is being brought along like a strong British or Irish prospect but, at 30 years of age, he is in a hurry – especially having been out since October due to, initially, a niggling injury before a fight in March fell through on the day.

Donnelly enviously looks at former amateur foes Abass Baraou [6(3)-0] and Balazs Bacskai [9(5)-0], with the German and Hungarian both having numerous championships fights under their respective belts already as they ride the fast track.

Vasyl Lomachenko is the obvious, and extreme, example but European and Central Asian prospects in general are moved much faster than their British and Irish counterparts.

Donnelly wants to follow this trend and explained to Irish-Boxing.com how “there’s no point waiting around, doing all this training, for fights with no-one. I’ve already wasted a few months of my career there which is something I can’t afford to do. I want to push on.”

“There’s guys I’ve fought before like Abass Baraou, he’s fighting ex-world champions and he’s only had five or six fights. If he can do that, why can’t I? I want to build the momentum and perform.”

“Balazs Bacskai is another who is flying up, all these guys, they’re fighting top guys, starting in eight rounders, moving quick.”

Donnelly is edging in this direction versus Palacios, who looks to be stronger than the average Nicaraguan journeyman, and he believes that a more competitive match-up will enable him to shine.

The double Commonwealth Games bronze medallist described how “his one is a good guy, very good, actually, from what I hear.”

“Nicaraguans, they’re very tough, he’ll be there for the whole distance. I’ll just see how the fight goes on Friday, the bigger the test, the better I’ll be. I’ll kick on from here with a great performance.”

“It makes me look bad, the guys who don’t really do anything, it’s hard to focus, it gets kind of boring.”

“This guy is going to come, he’s going to throw, he’s going to be there all the time. I’m looking forward to it, showing what I can do.

“I’m hoping to impress, do the six rounds and then move fast. I’ve got one chance at this, I want to take risks.”


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie