Less than three months on from the biggest win of his pro career, Eric Donovan is back in the ring and ready to set himself up for a massive 2018 and potential European title fight.
Things are clicking into gear for the Athy featherweight. Headlining his third bill of 2017 - more than any other Irish pro - at next months 'Celtic Clash 4' bill in the National Stadium on Saturday, December 2, when he defends his BUI Celtic belt against Spaniard Juancho 'el Pitbull de Polygon' Gonzalez.
Chief support on the show sees a Dublin grudge-match between Jay Byrne and 'Crank' Whitehouse for the BUI Celtic welterweight belt on another massive night of fights from Boxing Ireland Promotions and Tony Davitt Promotions.
It's a relatively quick turnaround for Donovan who only won the belt in September. Back then, atop the Celtic Clash 3 card, the former amateur star took a leap in class to take on Welsh champion Dai Davies. In only his fifth fight, Donovan dominated all eight rounds against the Valleys veteran to claim a points win which set boxing circles on both sides of the Irish Sea talking.
The Kildare star believes his ahead-of-schedule win over 'Dutters' Davies will serve him well in future. Donovan notes, “you can spar all you want. It’s the fight where you learn and I felt like I learnt an awful lot in there against a really, really experienced opponent. A Welsh champion and a solid pro. He has caused many upsets. He was a different guy, you could tell that he had 240 rounds of professional boxing versus my twelve before this fight. He knew at different times how to block you, how to block your hands, small tricks and tactics that I was learning as I went along.”
From Gijon in the Celtic Asturias region of northern Spain, the fighter nicknamed 'El Pitbull de Polygon' naturally is a physical, come-forward fighter that enters into the bout off the back of two consecutive wins. A fellow southpaw for Donovan to deal with, the strong former Spanish title challenger is what stands in the way of 'Lilywhite Lightning' and a potentially huge 2018.
With so much on the line, losing against the game Spaniard is out of the equation for Donovan who promises that "I’m prepared to go down in the trenches with any boxer and give the fans what they want. I’m a boxer, out-and-out counter puncher, but I can be very, very aggressive and be a toe-to-toe boxer when I need to be. I’m a good sized featherweight as well. I’m a big featherweight, five foot eight. I have a punch as well, I can take a punch. I won't lose the fight easily.”
With more from the Celtic Clash series in the pipeline - as well as the long-anticipated homecoming of Katie Taylor - Dublin promises to be busier than ever in the new year, and Donovan and his team hope to be front and centre during this Renaissance, with plenty of big fights on their radar. A realist in that he isn’t targeting world titles, the Lilywhite on the other hand doesn’t want to drop down in competition and is open to taking risky match-ups that others at his stage of pro development would not.
Donovan reasons that “I just want to test myself. I did a long time as an amateur, I did the WSB, I’m 32 – I don’t need years and years of learning. I want to [take a] chance, risk-reward. Give me the shot and what happens, happens. It would be lovely to get an Irish title. That would be a good stepping stone. That would put me into the European rankings and I’d love to get a shot at a European title further down the line. That’d be class.“I’ve no doubts, it’s more curiousity. I don’t fear losing because I’ve lost before in big fights. I lost in my fight to qualify for the  Olympic Games, which was a huge blow for me. All them were learning experiences for me. It’s a journey. I don’t know where it’s going to go but it’s a journey and I’m really enjoying it.”
“I hope that I can contribute to bringing big time boxing back to Ireland. Like, why can’t I? You’ve got to have that belief in yourself. Bernard Dunne did it, people believed in him and they got behind him. I’ve got World class credentials and attributes, so it’s a matter of me believing in that and developing more and more, and keep taking risks.”
The Athy man, who was recently honoured with a stunning mural on the wall of the St Michael's Club, is reinvigorated following his return to boxing, something which seemed unlikely a short time ago. Donovan outlines how “I was three years out of the game, I thought I’d never box again. Here I am with a new lease of life, a new passion, a new love, a new career and I’ve a belt. I’m delighted for the community, my fans and my family, my girlfriend and my and my kids."
Celtic Clash 4 also features Bernard Roe, Graham O'Shea McCormack, Colin O’Donovan, Vladimir Belujsky, James Cahill, Regan Buckley, John Joyce, Stephen McAfee, Martin Quinn, Dylan McDonagh, Thomas Finnegan, and Niall O’Connor.
Tickets for the show cost €30 (Balcony), €40 (Gallery), €60 (Ringside), €100 (VIP Premium), and €15 (Under-15s gallery – must be bought alongside an adult ticket) and are available to buy from the Healthy Living Centre, 2 Duke Street, Athy, County Kildare, or by calling Laura on 086 7949 406, or online at Ticketmaster.ie or Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.