The pair boxed for the vacant green belt on Red Corner Promotions ‘For Honour and Pride’ card at the National Stadium, with McDonagh using the right hook to brilliant effect to withstand a late charge to outpoint his Dublin opponent.
McDonagh was the last man to hold the belt, defeating John Waldron for the vacant strap in Liverpool back in January 2012, however he would be stripped due to inactivity.
Collins came into the bout as the favourite – although the initial price of 4/1 on McDonagh would shorten substantially in the days leading up to the fight.
There would be drama in the first as a cuffing right sent Collins down. The Wolfhound rose quickly and would look to engage, before a big left from McDonagh at the close of the round seemed to stun him.
McDonagh landed a succession of heavy shots at the start of the second. Collins rallied well, but would ship another two big right hooks before landing a meaty bodyshot of his own in reply.
The McDonagh right hook was working wonders into the third, and the jab of Collins was looking tentative at times but he would then rade big shots with the Mullingar man in the closing seconds of the stanza.
The output of McDonagh dropped in the fourth, as Collins began to establish himself, however a strong finish by the former champion may have snuck him the round.
Collins spent much of the fifth trapped to the ropes, where McDonagh would land two huge right hooks. The Castleknock puncher did well to push McDonagh back in the final minute, but the favour would be returned and he found himself again on the ropes at the bell.
A brilliant sixth saw the pair trade throughout. Initially the heavier shots were coming from McDonagh while the more active Collins would pepper the Midlander with short shots, before they both landed bombs with abandon in the final 30.
The action continued into the seventh, with McDonagh landing heavy shots early. A mid-round resurgence from Collins was cut short by the wiley McDonagh though, and he would land a number of big shots in the final minute on an increasingly ragged Collins.
The pace dipped at the start of the eighth. Collins was the man looking to press the action, however McDonagh was still landing big counters.
The scrappiness continued in the same vein for much of the penultimate round, before an explosive final minute where the pair opened up and let their hands go.
Perhaps sensing he needed a knockout, Collins came into the tenth aggressively, throwing caution to the wind – however the most notable shot of the round was another right hook from McDonagh that dipped the knees of the challenger. Collins pressed very hard in the final minute, bullying back McDonagh but it seemed to be too little too late.
Going to the cards, referee David Irvine scored the bout 97:94 in favour of McDonagh.
The Irish-Boxing.com scorecard read 97:92 to McDonagh.
The comeback victory for McDonagh sees him improve to 11(0)-2(0), while the first career defeat for Collins moves his record to 10(4)-1(0)-1.
Photo Credit: Laszlo Geczo Photography