Andy Lee predicts greatness for fellow Irishman Paddy “The Real Deal” Donovan

NEW YORK – As undefeated rising Irish welterweight star Paddy “The Real Deal” Donovan (11-0, 8 KOs) prepares to fight for his first title as a professional this Saturday against Danny Ball (13-1-1, 6 KOs), former world middleweight champion and fellow Irishman,  Andy Lee, has become Donovan’s invaluable chief second.

Donovan vs. Ball is being showcased on a DAZN PPV card presented by Matchroom Boxing, headlined by the rematch between  undisputed world super lightweight champion Chantelle Cameron (18-0) and Katie Taylor (21-1), streaming live from 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland, in a 10-round bout for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) Continental Welterweight Championship.

The 24-year-old Donovan was a celebrated Irish amateur boxer who compiled a sterling 161-6 record, captured 13 national titles, in addition to a silver medal at the prestigious AIBA World Junior Championships. The Limerick fighter, who was born in Ennis, Ireland, trains with Lee in Dublin and the connection has been awe inspiring to date.

Ireland has had numerous world champions, but few in the welterweight division, aside from Hall of Famer Jimmy McLarin and Eamonn Loughran. Donovan embraces the rich Irish boxing history, confident of becoming special before he hangs up his gloves and, perhaps, joining their exclusive club.

“I am a welterweight and don’t have problems making weight,” Donovan said. “I feel brilliant, strong and I believe I’ll be world champion. Right now, I’m the biggest prospect in Ireland.

“It’s amazing how Irish fighters are such big attractions. Fans love the style of Irish boxing. We’re known as sluggers, but it’s starting to change into a more boxer-puncher style today, because we have some great amateur coaches in Ireland.”

Lee (35-3-1, 24 KOs), whose cousin is unbeaten lineal and reigning World Boxing Council (WBA) World Heavyweight Champion Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs), not only trains Paddy, he also co-manages him along with New York-based attorney Keith Sullivan. Lee is well traveled having also been a 2004 Olympian, later trained by Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward and Adam Booth.

Not only does Lee believe Paddy is the top boxing prospect in Ireland, but he also feels that Donovan is one of the top boxing prospects in the entire world.

“I first met Paddy when he was a really young kid,” Lee remembered. “The first time I saw him was in the gym when my brother, Roger, told me about Paddy and his younger brother Eddie. Fast forward to the next time I saw Paddy; I was blown away with what I was seeing, but I wasn’t involved then as a trainer. I thought, if I was ever to get involved as a coach, this is the kid I want to do it with. He’s so talented and I see that every day I train him. He’s confident and something very special. He is one of the most talented boxers in the world.

“It’s not essential that he’s working with a world champion, but it definitely helps. I try to instill in my boxers what I learned from Emanuel Steward at the Kronk Gym, and the wealth of experience I have as a fighter going from London to Ireland, European and then Olympic competitions, and then working with Adam Booth. I’m finding a way to blend it all together.”

Presently, Lee is working in the Dublin gym with Paddy, as well as former World Boxing Organization (WBO) Heavyweight World Champion Joseph Parker (33-3, 23 KOs), of New Zealand, for his fight next month against Deontay Wilder, and Scottish heavyweight Nick Campbell (6-1, 5 KOs).

“No disrespect, ” Lee added, “because there are a lot of good fighters coming up in Ireland, but I believe Paddy is one of the best prospects in the world. It’s only a matter of time. We need to bring him along at the right pace, getting him experience in the gym. He has all the ingredients to be world champion, he just needs to cook a little more.  He’s tough, works hard and is the hardest hitting welterweight. He’s taking the right steps to do what he’s capable of doing in boxing.”

Donovan has dedicated his fight to Pieta, using his boxing platform to promote the suicide prevention charity that provides mental health services throughout Ireland. Paddy lost two relatives to suicide. Lee and Sullivan have also felt the pain of suicide by close relations. The Pietra Crisis Helpline, 1-800-247-247, offers crisis intervention support, 24 hours a day 365 days a year, to anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or engaging in self-harm and also supports those bereaved through suicide.

“I’ve spent countless hours crying for my family members,” Donovan stated powerfully. “We need to speak about this, and Pieta is there to help. If I can get somebody to call that number and change their life, I think my deed is done on this earth.”  

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