Steven Donnelly [8(3)-0] blasted his way to the Golden Robe, £16,000, and three professional wins tonight in the fifth edition of the Ultimate Boxxer at the Indigo in London’s O2 Arena.
The Ballymena light middleweight scored two knockouts en-route to the top prize as he kick-started his pro career and moved into domestic title contention live on BT Sport.
Having turned pro last August, Donnelly took the big step up tonight in the Prizefighter-style knockout tournament – an opportunity he had long called for.
The first Olympian to compete in the tournament, levels showed in the English capital as 31-year-old Donnelly crushed three unbeaten opponents.
Quarter-final foe Ish O’Connor, a raw 2-0 late replacement was sent down thrice with lefts to the body in the opening round – as well as once by his own momentum – as Donnelly got off to the perfect start.
Luck of the draw meant reigning Southern Area champ Sean Robinson was up next and Donnelly would thoroughly outbox the Londoner in the opening two rounds before battling through a turgid third to make it to the final.
Emerging a 29-28 x3 unanimous decision winner, Donnelly set up a final with Lenny Fuller and would promptly destroy the squat Englishman.
Finding his range with right hands towards the end of the first, Donnelly had Fuller out on his feet in the second and, with huge shots raining in, the bout was waved off to hand the double Commonwealth Games bronze medallist the biggest win of his pro career.
Presented with the Golden Robe by Amir Khan, the Ulsterman’s favourite boxer, the night could hardly have gone better for the Gerard McManus-trained Donnelly.
A break-out win, Donnelly had mentioned the likes of Anthony Fowler, Scott Fitzgerald, and Ted Cheeseman as potential foes beforehand – and the latter two are set to fight in Newcastle next month.
‘The Donn’ will be keen to return to the ring and keep building momentum before the end of the year and, from there, the trio above certainly now seem attainable in 2020.