World championship destiny: There are only a few obstacles left for Paddy Donovan

HOLLYWOOD’s good looks don’t play much of a role in the fighting game. But Andy Lee-trained, Matchroom-promoted, hard-charging attention seeker Paddy Donovan insists there are only a few barriers left between him and his ‘world title’ destiny. Louis Evans spoke to the astute southpaw ahead of his big match against Lewis Ritson tomorrow night.

What is your first memory of combat?

I come from a very humble family. My dad is a boxing trainer, a former boxer who opened his own gym in 2003 in Limerick city. I grew up fighting in the streets. My family and cousins ​​are all soldiers. It’s an environment where you have to be tough and fight your own battles.

My brother [Edward] also a professional; My uncle won many national titles. My first cousin, Jim, he was ready to turn pro with Andy [Lee]. We were always in the trenches, always being eliminated. Usually, my brother and I will wear boxing gloves when we leave the house instead of playing football or hurling. After school, go to the front garden, where there is a square box. We will fight for about an hour before going to the gym. It’s boxing, boxing, boxing.

My dad always saw something in me. He always knew I would be very successful in boxing. Everyone I met at tournaments said I was a future world champion, an Irish star. But I don’t see it that way. That’s just the only thing I know. I wasn’t good at much else – other sports or school – I just knew how to fight, and eventually people took notice.

You have a very explosive and vibrant style. How did it develop?

Of course I’m very talented. All my life, boxing was something I never really enjoyed. But in the amateur tournament, I didn’t lose. It was victory after victory, thirty-five unbeaten battles. Then, when I reached the high amateur level in Europe and the world at the age of 17-18, people started to pay attention and want to see more of me. I started looking at myself and thinking, ‘Wait, I could be doing something here.’ I realized that I could make a living from this job and provide a living for my family.

From then on, I believed I could become a world boxing champion and change my family’s life. That was the goal at the time. But now, I’m very close. I was trained by one of the best trainers in boxing [Andy Lee] and signed with the best promoter in the world [Eddie Hearn]. It seemed like I was destined to become world champion.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – JANUARY 27: Paddy Donovan taunts Williams Andres Herrera during the welterweight bout between Paddy Donovan and Williams Andres Herrera at Newforge Sports Complex on January 27, 2024 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

How do you define KO art?

I have one of the highest knockout percentages in the history of Irish amateur boxing. People will say, ‘This is the guy for the professional ranks.’ I’ll have ten fights with nine knockouts. There will be an additional seven or eight kills for each long match.

Natural abilities play a big role. Andy had guys in the gym who got through — some extremely strong punchers — but they didn’t have the ‘secret’ to KO. You can’t train KO; it is there naturally. A good coach can help you make knockout shots at the right time and place as you advance through the ranks. Andy designs a lot of my photos, and that’s the majority of what we do at the gym. We work hard to hit and not get hit, keep it nice and clean, and establish a killer punch. That’s what’s happened in the last few years. When I turned pro, Andy said: ‘Paddy, hopefully we can get you in 10 matches with a 50% kill rate.’ My percentage is around 80% in 13 fights [laughs]. Not bad!

What makes Andy Lee the right coach for you? How special is your relationship?

I consider Andy a great person, not just a coach. I just love being with him. Since I turned professional, he has never taken a penny from me, never taken money from my funds or in expenses. He takes care of everything for me. Andy has seen much of himself in me since he began his professional career. He’s more like a father than a boxing coach. We have a great relationship; We have never had any conflicts or disputes. I always do everything he says, no matter the cost.

What is the best advice Andy has given you in life?

Stay humble. Continue working out in the gym. I have a young family [wife, Ellie, and three children], [Andy says] to take care of them and stay away from bad friends. I was a wild and brazen kid when I started boxing professionally. I just go out to enjoy myself. Years passed, and I began to settle down. The first priority is to take care of my wife and children and try to build a future for them. That’s exactly what Andy helped me do.

Andy had an incredible education, working under Emanuel Steward and Adam Booth. Where do you see that influence in the gym?

[I liken myself more to] A warrior Emanuel Steward. Andy took a part from Adam, a part from Emanuel, and obviously a part from myself. From time to time, I take the time to look at Emanuel and Adam’s work—and I can see a lot of Andy in both of them—but the history and culture of Emanuel and Kronk remains strong for Andy. We relate a little more to them and their style.

DUBLIN, IRELAND – NOVEMBER 25: Andy Lee, Head Coach of Paddy Donovan, looks on before the Welterweight bout between Paddy Donovan and Danny Ball at The 3Arena Dublin on November 25, 2023 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

How do you assess the state of Irish boxing?

[Standards of] Irish boxing has always been at a very high level, even when Andy and I were amateurs. The Irish team is always one step ahead of the GB team. Now, we are getting more recognition. We don’t need to go to America; We don’t need to catch a flight abroad. Eddie [Hearn] went to Ireland, organized two big shows for Katie [Taylor], and giving opportunities to myself, Gary Cully, Thomas Carty, Caoimhín Agyarko, Lewis Crocker and all the other fighters involved was huge. The talent is always there; recognition is all we need and we are getting it now.

I really want to fight Crocker; It was a great fight for the Irish fans. This is what we aim for in boxing; I’ve known him since I was quite young. He is 28 years old, 3 years older than me. Everywhere I go, people ask, ‘When are you going to fight Crocker? Do you accept the war?’ Maybe, it could happen. I don’t want to go into details but it’s a fight we want.

If I can’t become ‘world champion’ with my amateur pedigree, Andy Lee and my team, so well built by Top Rank and now signed by Eddie Hearn—God help those Irish fighter left! Who else would [become champion] What if I can’t do it with all that? I will become world champion; I believe that. I know what I have to do, and it won’t be easy. I’m having a big argument with Lewis Ritson and I know we’re about to have another one. I don’t want to reveal anything yet, but it will help me win the world title. Two more wins and we’ll be ready.

Have you always loved the spotlight?

I’ve always loved being the center of attention in the ring. I attract attention at every show I participate in. I did very well in the first Taylor-Catterall hand and had another kill in the Katie Taylor-Chantelle Cameron II. I performed great in all the major shows.

I love the attention and everything it brings. I love fight week, the interviews, everyone talking about me and all the bars have it. To be recognized everywhere at home and in Dublin is a great feeling. It’s amazing that someone with a travel background – someone with a much lower level of education – has been so successful. It was great for me, all the young traveling kids and the people of Ireland. They know they could have a star on their hands.

How do you communicate with American audiences?

I’m always in touch [US-based] co-manager, Keith Sullivan; I was on the radio and in the press in New York. I was always noticed there. I believe I have a large following there. The last time I was in the States, I was at Madison Square Garden and got one [New York Knicks] jersey, and Andy asked us to feature it in the next game or two. It was a few months before I went out to watch the Jason Quigley fight.

If I can get to the United States, if I can get across that line, I know we can do some great things there. When I was at Top Rank through Covid, everything fell through at the last minute. I was supposed to fight there in 2021. We flew out and everything, but it fell through. Dancing in New York and MSG headline, that’s a box I want to check.

Edgar Berlanga defeated Jason Quigley in New York

How do you deal with pressure?

Of course, you feel it in every major war. The expectations for every game right now are very high, especially in Ireland. Everyone believed I would win; Everyone believed that I would perform. But I don’t see it that way. I know I had to do a lot of work and be away from my family. Put me in the ring and let me fight; it is in God’s hands. If I win, I win; If I lose, I lose. We will go again. It’s not the end of the world.

I like to fight; I like to enjoy it. However, if I let that overwhelm me and put pressure on myself, my performance will not be good. It [the fight] it all happened in the blink of an eye. Then it’s just a memory. Before you know it, I’m back with my wife and kids. Then I can reminisce. It happens so quickly that you have to go through the motions.

But if you look at it, I didn’t do anything. If I don’t become world champion, this professional boxing journey will be a complete failure. My talent and my team deserve the world title.

According to statistics, men who travel in Ireland are seven times more likely to become victims of suicide than men who do not travel. In your view, why do the statistics show this?

It was an answer that no one could have guessed. We ask that question a lot. This has happened to our family three times in the past ten years. We know it’s there; We know it’s alive. There are about eight deaths named after each tourist. Suicide strikes them eight times per generation! We are trying to find a solution. Everyone we meet [whose family has been a victim of suicide] we asked, ‘Why do you think they did that? What pushed them there?’ I do not know. All I can say is that help is on the way; have someone to talk to. They can always contact me and they can always contact my team. Pieta’s house is always there. The number is 1800 247 247. They are the strongest team in Ireland.

I can’t put my finger directly on it. Two people in my family died [suicides] over the past two and a half years. I’d be lying if I said I knew the answer. What could make someone leave this world? I do not know. Every family in Ireland wants to know. Hopefully they can find it within themselves to change their feelings and reach out to people who can help them.

How do you want to be remembered as a warrior?

A man who changed Irish boxing, a man everyone admired. A good person both in and out of the ring, and a ‘world champion’. Afterward, [when Donovan hangs up the gloves] to give back to the people of the city [Limerick] and Ireland, to give back to young fighters in Ireland – to have kids who want to be the next me. If I can become ‘world champion’ and achieve what I have in mind, I will be very popular in Ireland.


News7g: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button