‘This is golden chance for me to claim a European title’ – Eric Donovan discusses out of the blue EU title shot

After nigh on becoming blue in the face calling for a shot at major honours it appears an out of the blue, blue strap opportunity has fallen the way of Eric Donovan [13(7)-1(1)].

There was a real ‘they kept that quiet’ feeling among boxing insiders when this week, Team Donovan confirmed they had been mandated to challenge for the EU European title, a gateway strap to the extremely prestigious EBU European crown.

The thinking was manager Mark Dunlop had worked his magic and maneuvered and persuaded the European Boxing Union to place the Kildare favourite next inline for champion Haithem Laamouz [17(7)-1(0)].

However, it seems the EBU had been monitoring the Irish featherweight champion since former managerial team Boxing Ireland lobbied for him to be ranked – and were impressed enough to make him mandatory for the super featherweight version of the strap.

“I was just sitting at home on the coach when a text came in from the BUI. It was the last day of 2020 and it said, I am now the mandatory challenger for the EBU European Union Title, ” Donovan explains to Irish-boxing.com.

“I honestly didn’t expect it because I was heading back to featherweight. I presume I was ranked at super featherweight because my last two fights were at that weight.”

‘Lilywhite Lightning’ has been promised a slot on a Matchroom show, but with the title shot not of Eddie Hearn’s doing it remains to be seen if the promotional outfit will promote it.

It could be the kind of title clash to attract Irish terrestrial TV back into the game and Donovan may like the idea of home advantage.

However, as he has only found about about the clash and talks have yet to officially begin, the St Michael’s Athy graduate remains unclear as to when, where or on what show he will challenge Laamouz.

“No idea,” he responds when asked about time frame and potential setting.

“It’s hard to predict anything in this current climate. His team will obviously touch base and discuss with Mark and I will just focus on my business.”

Donovan planned to return to featherweight post his stoppage to Zelfa Barrett in Fight Camp, but this opportunity has prompted to continue to explore his options at 130lbs.

“As I said, I was heading back to featherweight but then this opportunity presented itself to me. I mean, I could turn down the chance and move back to featherweight, but I think this is golden chance for me to claim a European title.

“My plan is to switch back to featherweight, but for now we’ll just focus on one move/goal at a time- and that’s my EU title shot.”

The EU title is not to be confused with the European title recently won at cruiserweight by Donovan’s managerial stablemate Tommy McCarthy.

However, it is a title that often proves the final stepping stone to the main EBU blue strap, a belt Donovan so desires.

“It’s a brilliant position to be in and it can definitely lead to greater opportunities,” he adds before stressing he has earned his shot.

“I am delighted to see a clear pathway opening up in front of me. I have earned the position I am in today, I have worked so hard for this. I always believe in myself, my ability and the team around me. So here’s hoping 2021 will be a successful year for team Donovan.”

Speaking on his opponent the respected pundit, fighter and mental health advocate said: “I haven’t had much of a research on him. I looked at his last fight, he’s solid enough. He does the simple things very well and is a well conditioned fighter.”

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: [email protected]