Donegan gearing up for Irish title fight



Boxing

Cavan boxer Dominic Donegan is gearing up for the biggest fight of his career after it was confirmed that he will take on Limerick’s Graham McCormack for the BUI Irish Celtic Middleweight title on June 25 in Belfast.

The Drumgoon fighter had been training for a low-key bout in Spain when the opportunity arose and, he says, it is the chance he has been waiting for.

“Three years ago I called out the opponent that I’m fighting after my debut. Obviously I had a bad year last year with Covid and just things weren’t right personally, taking fights that I shouldn’t have taken,” Donegan told the Anglo-Celt.

“After the defeat that I had and the draw that I had, he accepted the fight. The title is vacant, the champion retired and vacated it so it’s up for grabs now and either of us are going to be champion. We both have a 50-50 chance of winning the Irish belt.”

The eight-rounder is down for decision on a card at the Europa Hotel and the bout is being billed as a grudge match, with the pair trading insults at times online.

“I’ve never sparred him, I was on the same show as him when I was fighting in Cork two and a half years ago and I’ve seen videos of him. I’ve had words with him over the internet but that’s the business we’re in, it’s not really personal although it might be personal when we’re in the ring but that’s only for half an hour and the better man will win on the night.”

Donegan had been adhering to a strict regime before word of this fight arrived.

“I have been doing a programme called ‘75 Hard’. I started it with my girlfriend a few months ago. It’s no junk food, no drinking and training twice a day for 75 days. I was on day 50 and I got a text to see was I training.

“I had been training hard, I was meant to have a fight in Spain at the end of the 75 Hard but they didn’t know that. I said I was and they asked me would I fight Graham McCormack for the middleweight Celtic title.

“To tell you the truth, this is the best shape I’ve ever been in, fitness-wise and mentally. I’m a massive believer that things happen for a reason and this fight couldn’t have come along at a better time. I’m going in here 100pc confident, I don’t him beating me in any department, I think I’m going to out-work him, I’m stronger.

“I’m very, very confident, training has been going very well. I’m up in Dublin training with Tony Dobbitt. Since I’m not in the army now, I’m my own boss doing my PT business and I have more time.

“I finished up in the army 11 months ago. I’m my own sole trader now, running my business and it’s going very well.”

The pandemic was very difficult for boxers, amateur and professional, he said.

“Covid was very hard. You’re doing things half-arsed, you thought you were training but you weren’t. You can’t really train on your own as a boxer, my trainer is old enough in years and I couldn’t really get up to him. You were just doing things to say you did it, you weren’t pushing yourself.

“I was meant to be fighting the first week in July so this came a week earlier, it’s on June 25. I was in a good camp but I was keeping it quiet because I just wanted to go over there and get the win.

“But then I got offered this and it was a fight I couldn’t turn down. It was a fight I wanted and I am very, very confident of taking that belt back.

“That 75 Hard helped me massively. I’m about 5lbs off my weight two weeks out, in the past I’d be one week out and could be 13lbs off my weight. My weight is perfect, I would lose 5lbs tonight if I really had to.

“I am just in a better place at the minute. A lot of people will talk about the loss and the draw I had but they don’t know what goes on with people personally. I am looking forward now to the 25th and putting that all behind me and jumping on to the big stage.

“If I win that, massive, massive doors open for me.”

Fighting in front of a crowd again is a major plus, he feels.

“I find that really helps me and drives me on. I fought in Luxembourg and there were no spectators allowed in and I found it difficult, you didn’t get that extra confidence and drive from the crowd.

“You don’t want people to waste money on a ticket, you have to put on a show and give them their money’s worth. Hopefully there will be a good crowd there supporting me, it would be massive for Cavan to have an Irish pro champion.

“I think Andy Murray actually won the exact same belt and look what he did then, he went on to be ranked in Europe as well.”

Donegan had returned to football with the Drumgoon club this season but has been focusing on the ring of late.

“That was more for the head. I got my starting spot on the team and once you get in there with the lads, it’s very hard to walk away but I haven’t been with them in six weeks now. I probably will go back for the championship but boxing is my number one.

“I like the football for the social end, doing the hard running with the lads. It’s a different type of fitness but it’s more for the social end and being around the lads I went to school with and played for years with.”

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