Steven Donnelly looking to fulfill Zaur’s prophecy

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On Saturday Steven Donnelly will look to continue fulfilling a decade-old prophecy made by Zaur Antia.

The Wicklow-based Georgian coach told a teenage Donnelly that he would one day be an Olympic champion, and the Ballymena welterweight continued that journey today in the Last 16 of the Rio Games.

Donnelly defeated tough and experienced Mongolian Tuvshinbat Byamba at the Riocentro this afternoon and afterwards told RTÉ that “everything went to plan there.”

“It was a really tough fight, I knew it would be, I said beforehand that he would be coming forward the whole time, a heavy hitter, I knew it would be messy”

“I stuck to the plan, what these guys [Team Ireland coaches] said.”

“I feinted, stood back, long one-twos, side-stepping when he came in.”

“I did that in most of the fight, there were times when I got dragged into a bit of a fight, but you have to do that in some fights.”

“I dug in there till the very end and here I am now with two wins and I’m flying, starting to feel really good.”

“Anything’s possible, the dream’s still alive.”

Explaining Antia’s prediction, Donnelly described how “when I was 48kg, the same weight as Paddy Barnes, me and Zaur were in Russia, it was my first fight and I beat the World Cadet Champion and he said to me ‘one day you’ll be Olympic champion’ and here I am now at 69kg and I’m in the Olympic quarter finals. Anything’s possible”

If he is to continue his Olympic dream, which this time last year seemed a million miles away, Donnelly will have to defeat formidable Moroccan Mohammed Rabii, and the All Saints fighter admits that “he’s a classy operator, he’s World champion and he’s not that for no reason.”

“As I’ve said, I believe in myself and I’m going to give it everything.”

“We’re called the Fighting Irish for a reason and I’m going to go out and give it my all.”

“I’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]