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box clever Irish boxer Eric Donovan on the 'biggest opportunity of my career'

Donovan out for scalp of Cuban star

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Eric Donovan (right), in action against Zelfa Barrett during their IBF Inter-Continental Super Feather title fight

Eric Donovan (right), in action against Zelfa Barrett during their IBF Inter-Continental Super Feather title fight

Eric Donovan (right), in action against Zelfa Barrett during their IBF Inter-Continental Super Feather title fight

ATHY boxer Eric Donovan has a once-in-a-career opportunity to grab the limelight next weekend in Glasgow.

Not only is the 36-year-old challenging one of the most decorated boxers in the world; he is doing it on one of the most high-profile professional shows ever staged in Scotland.

Donovan's ten-round featherweight contest against two-time Cuban Olympic gold medallist Robeisy Ramirez is the chief support bout for the much-anticipated World Super-Lightweight undisputed title fight between the undefeated champion and Scottish native Josh Taylor and unbeaten English fighter Jack Catterall.

A sell-out crowd of 15,000 fans - including 160 of Donovan's family, friends and fans - will fill the SSE Hydro in Glasgow with millions watching on TV for the show, which also features three other Irish fighters - Tokyo Olympian Kurt Walker, Limerick's Paddy Donovan and Kieran Molloy from Galway.

Walker - who was very unlucky not to win a medal in Tokyo - and Molloy are making their professional debuts.

But attention will be focussed on Donovan who has lost just one of his 15 fights since turning professional in 2016.

"Without a doubt this is the biggest opportunity of my career," said Donovan.

"It is one thing to have an opportunity. It is another thing to be ready for it. And I am ready for it and that is what gives me great belief and confidence."

In his role as an analyst on RTE television during the London and Rio Olympic Games, Donovan had an opportunity to observe Ramirez who won gold in the flyweight division at the 2012 Games and was crowned bantamweight champion four years later in Brazil.

In 2018 Ramirez defected while attending a training camp in Mexico and subsequently signed a professional contract with the Top Rank organisation in the US.

But he suffered a shock defeat on his pro debut in 2019. Though he since avenged that loss and now has an 8-1 record, Donovan believes he can exploit Ramirez's lack of experience in the professional game.

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Robeisy Ramirez after beating Orlando Gonzalez

Robeisy Ramirez after beating Orlando Gonzalez

Robeisy Ramirez after beating Orlando Gonzalez

"He is not yet a fully-fledged professional fighter; he still has his amateur characteristics. This kinda gives me a foothold in the fight. While he might be far superior over three rounds, this is not three rounds.

"Sometimes it takes some boxers longer than others to make the transition. I think the fight balances out. I will probably be the underdog but that's OK with me. I think I have a great chance.

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"I am looking at this as my moment in time. That's how I try and live my life now. I live in the moment and this is going to be an incredible one."

Donovan has trained under the guidance of Packie Collins - his first professional trainer - for the last 18 months. He believes their working relationship has benefitted his career.

"I am learning loads. It is a real education, development and growth kind of relationship. Looking back now on my fight against Zelfa Barrett, while I got a lot of accolades and praise and was winning the fight by a mile I now realise how much a novice I was." (Barrett stopped Donovan in the eighth round in 2020)

"Over the last 18 months working with Packie I have managed fix up all the areas I needed to work on. I am a lot more settled and composed now and you will see this next Saturday night. Packie is a brilliant coach and I love working with him."

Like Donovan, 28-year-old Ramirez is a southpaw. He has his sights set on challenging for a world title before the end of the year.

American Shakur Stevenson who Ramirez beat back in the 2016 Olympic final in Rio challenges Oscar Valdez for the WBO and WBC super featherweight title on April 30 in Las Vegas.

Ramirez would like to meet the winner. Firstly, though he has to take care of business against Donovan - who could prove his most troublesome opponent yet.

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