Unbe-Lee-vible talent – Andy Lee says Donovan is ‘ahead of the game’

Andy Lee doesn’t want to put much pressure on Limerick’s latest star, but the all round Mr Nice Guy can’t lie – and admits Paddy Donovan is already ‘ahead of the game’.

The former WBO middleweight world champion was a massive fan of the OLOL graduate during his standout underage amateur days, but having now taken over as coach and seen what the southpaw has to offer up close and personal is aware he has something special on his hands.

The 13-time national amateur champion, who is signed to Top Rank, makes his debut on the #MTKFightNight at Belfast’s Ulster Hall – live on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank and on iFL TV worldwide – and if Lee is to believes it’s worth tuning in early to watch a fighter he believes in ‘The Real Deal’ in name and nature.

With many eager to see Donovan dazzle alongside another hotly-tipped debutant in Dublin’s Pierce O’Leary, Lee is quietly confident his man will deliver.

“I have to be wary of putting too much pressure on his shoulders and we have to keep his feet on the ground but he’s as good as they get and in terms of being a debutant, he’s ahead of the game,” said Lee before explaining the 21-year-olds natural talent all but persuaded him to return to the game in a coaching and management capacity.

“I had no interest in management or training but Paddy is an exceptional talent. I could’ve been waiting for years for someone as good as him to come along. I know I can help him and he’s already made huge improvements since his last amateur fight.”

There is a great deal of excitement surrounding the recent code changers first paid bout, but Lee is determined to make sure his charge doesn’t get caught up in the hype.

The former Manny Steward and Adam Booth trained fighter will urge Donovan to get comfortable in his surroundings and if he manages to achieve that, he will naturally look good.

“My advice to him in the corner will be to find himself in the ring first. It’s a different atmosphere and a different sport. He needs to get comfortable. Once he gets in there and gets comfortable, then he can step it up and I’ll be expecting a knockout.”

Speaking with regard to the fight Donovan was in relatively relaxed mood.

“I don’t feel any pressure really. I’ll have a few butterflies and nerves but that’s fighting.

“We’ve trained hard and well. Everything is good and we’re happy to be here. I’m a fighter who rarely gets hit and I’m a good puncher. We’ve made some adjustments and I’m just ready to fight.”

Joining Donovan on a huge bill is the IBF Inter-Continental flyweight clash between Jay Harris and Paddy Barnes, Sean McComb’s showdown with Emilian Dominguez plus Conrad Cummings, Lewis Crocker and many more.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com