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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 25 October 2020

Eric Donovan to headline in title fight on bumper night of Irish boxing live on TG4

Competitors Assassin Boxing and Boxing Ireland have combined to make a potentially thrilling card for terrestrial TV.


PROFESSIONAL BOXING WILL return to terrestrial TV in Ireland on 30 March on what promises to be one of the biggest nights of punch-for-pay action to take place south of the border in the last decade.

A collaboration between Irish-based competitors Boxing Ireland Promotions and Assassin Boxing, Clash of the Titans will be broadcast live on TG4 and will include two title showdowns as well as an undercard stacked with domestic dust-ups.

The National Stadium event will make for the third professional boxing card in Ireland to have been shown on TG4 within the space of just over 12 months — this following a seven-year period in which prizefighting was entirely absent from Irish terrestrial TV.

The station’s involvement has provided a major boost to the sport south of the border which in recent years has been blighted by external criminal forces as well as the conduct of management company MTK Global, whose Republic of Ireland boycott was recently brought to an end.

download (2) Eric Donovan will make his return from a lengthy injury layoff in an Irish title fight against Stephen McAfee. Source: Andy Lee

The headline scrap on 30 March will see former amateur standout Eric Donovan of Kildare, revered for his boxing punditry on national TV and radio as well as his ability with mitts on, face Dublin’s Stephen McAfee for the Boxing Union of Ireland (BUI) featherweight crown.

Athy’s Donovan, 8-0 with four of his wins quick, is returning from a lengthy injury layoff and aims to fight for the European title before year’s end. A former European medalist as an amatuer, ‘Lilywhite Lightning’ will enter the continental picture as a prizefighter with a win over Sallynoggin warrior McAfee [5-0-1, 2KOs].

McAfee himself held European and world titles as a kickboxer before rising to prominence within Irish boxing circles by way of his two memorable scraps with Cork’s Colin O’Donovan, drawing the first before edging ‘The Rebel Rouser’ on a split decision in what was a feverishly anticipated rematch last March.

A victory for the Dub would also propel him into European title contention as Irish titleholders are granted a ranking by the European Boxing Union.

Eric Donovan commentating Eric Donovan on co-commentary duty for RTÉ during the 2018 Irish Senior Elite Championships. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The co-feature fight is another potential corker, with Dubs Victor Rabei [6-0, 2KOs] and Jake Hanney [5-1, 4KOs] squaring off for national honours at light-welterweight.

Rabei enters the bout in notable form: the affable 25-year-old overcame Mark Morris and Karl Kelly in two all-Irish wars last year before blowing away journeyman Antonio Horvatic in a matter of seconds live on TG4 on Ray Moylette’s homecoming card in December.

On the flipside, inner-city man Hanney hasn’t fought since his sole career defeat — a firefight with highly-regarded Belfast man Tyrone McKenna — two years ago.

Regardless, the bout carries with it a whiff of all-out war and is ready-made for a TV audience.

Rabei v Hanney will also pit Clash of the Titans‘ co-promoters against each other: Rabei is managed and promoted by Assassin Boxing, while Hanney recently put pen to paper with Boxing Ireland in a bid to relaunch his career.

Victor Rabei celebrates Undefeated Victor Rabei will face puncher Jake Hanney for the BUI Irish title at 140 pounds, live on TG4. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

On the undercard, a third title fight sees Kildare’s Allan Phelan [9-3-1, 6KOs] face Dublin’s Aiden Metcalfe [2-0] for the BUI Celtic featherweight strap. The victor could well find themselves top of the queue to challenge the winner of Donovan-McAfee for the Irish title later in the year.

Crumlin’s Martin Quinn [2-1, 1KO] will aim to bounce back from a thrilling but highly controversial defeat to Karl Kelly at Boxing Ireland’s Celtic Clash 7 when he faces fellow Dub and former amateur rival Francy Luzoho [1-0, 1KO] in a light-welterweight contest, while a Munster derby pits Limerick light-middleweight Graham McCormack [3-0] against adopted Corkonian Jade Karam, originally from South Africa [9-9-2, 4KOs].

In an international contest, undefeated Waterford standout Dylan Moran [9-0, 5KOs], who recently penned a potentially career-making promotional deal in the States, will face ‘Super Gusco’ Gyorgy Mizsei Jr of Hungary [25-25-1, 15KOS]. Moran will first make his US debut on a Matchroom world-title card live on DAZN on 9 March.

Larne super-featherweight Kelvin McDonald [1-0] will take on Tallaght debutant Declan Kenna in a four-rounder.

Irish super-bantamweight champion Carl ‘The Cobra’ McDonald of Tallaght [5-2] will also be in action as he begins his pursuit of European honours, while Leinster Rugby athletic performance coach Cillian Reardon of Dublin [4-0] will also feature.

Kerry’s Siobhán O’Leary [1-0, 1KO], Dublin’s Keane McMahon [5-0, 2KOs], Waterford’s Craig McCarthy [5-0], Cavan’s Owen ‘The Butcher’ Duffy [3-0, 2KOs], Swords’ Paddy Nevin [2-0], Kerry debutant Kevin Cronin, Cork debutant Thomas McCarthy, Cavan debutant Dominic Donegan, and Clondalkin debutant Paul McDonnell will all also partake in the jam-packed National Stadium bill.

Dylan Moran and Nelson Altamirano Dungarvan's Dylan Moran will make his US debut live on DAZN on 9 March before returning to fight live on TG4 at the end of the month. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Clash of the Titans will be the second successive domestic boxing card to be broadcast live on TG4, which is fast becoming the televisual home for the sport in Ireland.

Per, Ray Moylette’s much-lauded Castlebar homecoming on the Irish-language station in December drew viewing figures comparable to the average Sky Sports boxing broadcast (in the region of 300,000 total) despite clashing with The Late Late Show on RTÉ.

It’s expected that TG4 will broadcast several more pro boxing cards over the next three years, but a deal is yet to be officially confirmed.

The 2019 National Senior Elite Championship finals are also expected to air on TG4 at the end of this month.

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