Paddy Donovan’s special bond with Andy Lee and how he could be Ireland’s next big thing

The Limerick sensation is on the other side of a relatively quiet three-year period that encapsulated just six fights. Family bereavement followed, leaving the now 25-year-old wondering how he was going to get his career moving. 

However, boxing’s return to Ireland in 2023 has seen Donovan breakthrough on the Katie Taylor undercards in Dublin, while also working with some of the biggest stars in the sport.

“It has all blossomed, everything is coming at the right stage of my career,” Donovan said exclusively to ProBox TV. “Irish boxing needs a new superstar. Katie has done her thing. [Michael] Conlan has done his thing. So now it is time to see a new up and coming star to come through the sport, keep carrying the Irish flag nice and high. I gotta keep perfuming and keep improving, and let's see how far we can go. A lot of my fights have been in the UK, I had a fight in Scotland. It is nice to bring it home to Ireland to fight in front of all the Irish fans, put on great shows. 

“When you look at people’s careers, you think it is going to be a straight road to a pot of gold at the top. Unfortunately it is not like that. There are a lot of ups and downs, for everybody in life. You get hit with so many challenges. I did as well. A couple of years back, I was hit with two deaths in the family, then a hand injury. So yeah, it was a big slope and very hard to recuperate from, but I got myself together and got myself in a great position. [I got my head, got back in the gym, and now we are here pushing for big time boxing.”

Donovan (12-0, 9 KOs) takes on Williams Andres Herrera on the Lewis-Crocker undercard in Belfast tomorrow night, fresh off a stunning fourth-round knockout victory over Danny Ball in Dublin two months ago.

“I'm delighted to be here, I thank God everyday,” Donovan explained. “The hand is perfect, you will Saturday night how good it is. You don’t really know what to expect until you get in the ring. I’ve prepared in ways no matter what he throws at me, I will be able to deal with. That’s the plan, get in there, see what he has to offer and look for the killer shot.”

Donovan is watched over by trainer and former world champion Andy Lee. The pair share the same hometown, Limerick. Donovan was the first fighter to take stewardship from the former middleweight world champion, who has played a hand in Tyson Fury’s unthinkable comeback.

“Obviously everyone knows Andy in Limerick,” Donvan added. “I saw so much of Andy, he had some of his professional fights in Limerick. After the Elite Amateur Championships in Ireland, Andy came calling. He actually said he would come out of retirement to train me. I was delighted I was his first fighter and I think being his first fighter there is that very special bond between us. He’s always looked out for me, I’m a southpaw from Limerick City. The only thing he is probably devastated about is that I’m a bigger puncher than him!

“There were times when it was just me and Andy in the gym for years just starting off. He’s an entertaining guy. I think of him as a global icon, to learn off him was a tremendous feeling. Then, obviously, all the big lads started coming in, training with Tyson [Fury], training with Joseph Parker, training with Jason Quigley, the camp erupted a bit. It got so loud and so joyful. It is great to be a part of such a great gym. We all want to fight in Saudi, that pays money to secure your family. It was great to be there, it was great to learn off the likes of Joseph Parker and Tyson Fury. I was out in Vegas with Tyson, too. I absorb all these little things off these big guys, and hopefully in the next year or two the time will come where it will be me there.”