Underdog McAfee eyeing massive rewards from Eric Donovan risk


Having reaped the rewards of early risks, Stephen McAfee [5(2)-0-1] claims accepting an offer to fight accomplished former amateur and potential star name Eric Donovan for the Irish featherweight title was a no brainer.

An Irish title fight just seven fights in was never meant to be on the cards for the former top kickboxer when he turned over as recently as May 2017.

However, after favouring Irish opposition over a journeyman opponent in just his third fight, the Sallynoggin puncher started a process that has lead him to become a bill-topping TV fighter and he will look to shine under the lights and in front of the TG4 cameras in the ‘Clash of the Titans’ bill topper on Saturday March 30th.

The path is easily charted.

A mini-war with Colin O’Donovan led to a small hall classic rematch for the BUI Celtic super featherweight title. Victory there after a draw in their first meeting not only meant ‘Showtime’ was Irish title eligible but saw him become something of a domestic name.

Having seen the benefits of taking early chances, McAfee claims he could never turn down the chance to upset Kildare’s Donovan and become Irish champion live on TG4.

“There is no doubt it, it’s a risky and tough fight, but life is about taking risks at the end of the day. If you don’t take them you won’t get to where you want to be,” McAfee told Irish-Boxing.com.

“I have gotten to where I am in such a short space of time, just six fights, and I have been making noise [because of those risks]. I am going to keep going with that winning mentality.”

McAfee goes into the fight against a fellow BUI Celtic champion, European and EU Championships bronze medal winner and five-time Senior Elite champ Donovan [8(4)-0] as the clear underdog.

However, that sits well with him, and he is confident of a scalp against a 33-year-old fighter returning from an injury-ravaged 2018.

The Jonathan Lewins-trained fighter warns he is an underdog with sharp teeth and is confident he can cause an upset on March 30th.

McAfee admitted that “I didn’t think that I’d come this far in such a short space of time. It’s a reality check big time, but I am going to take it with both hands.”

“The pressure is all on him. I am going in there thinking I can win the fight. I don’t mind being the underdog – for once.”

His series with Cork’s Donovan played a major part in getting McAfee to this point but. if this particular risk pays off, doors will be kicked open for the BUI super featherweight Celtic champion.  

“I know the rewards are massive. I’ll jump up the ladder again. It’s a short time in boxing so we took the offer as soon as we got it.”

McAfee proved just how determined he is to kick on by agreeing to drop down to featherweight to try and scalp Donovan, who is now trained by Kenneth Egan.

As 130lbs mandatory, he could have waited around for a super featherweight tilt, having seen a fight with Feargal McCroy fall through but believes this is a chance to fast track his career massively.

It admits the dropping the extra four pounds isn’t ideal and also claims being the bigger fighter once both are re-hydrated won’t be an advantage.

“I don’t really look into size. Size has been against me my whole life and I done alright. No size doesn’t matter in this fight,” states the former Irish semi-pro welterweight champion quite matter of factly.

McAfee looked all set to fight McCrory for the super feather green strap late last year, but injury forced the Tyrone man out of scheduled bout.

McAfee admits that still hurts to a degree and admits even watching ‘Fearless’ claims the  lightweight Irish strap on his phone in the cinema was worse than the woeful film.

“I was in the cinema and I forgot about it,” he laughed.

“I am not going to lie the film was shite so I went online and I looked from about the sixth round and I watched it. It hurt me then. I thought that should me. I should be up there fighting. It is what it is, that’s just boxing,” he adds before putting a positive spin on the situation.

“Maybe you can look at in a positive way. Now I am headlining on the telly. It doesn’t get bigger than this for Irish boxing.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

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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