Ballymena fighter Steven Donnelly took the next step in his professional career when he emerged victorious amongst the super welterweights at Ultimate Boxxer 5, after an enthralling night of action at a sold-out Indigo at the O2 in London.
The 2016 Rio Olympian saw off the gutsy challenge of Lenny Fuller in the final, following a first-up victory over Ish O’Connor and a semi-final win over the teak-tough Sean Robinson, after he in turn had defeated Lewis Syrett in their opening clash.
‘It’s just unbelievable. The training has paid off, it’s been a tough six or seven weeks.’ the Golden Robe winner told Layla Anna-Lee, live on BT Sport after securing the tournament win.
‘We sparred hard in training, three or four rounds, then a 10-minute break by the side of the ring, and then go again.We were prepared for anything that came our way, and I proved that. I used my jab well, and my boxing ability shone through in the end. It’s hard to switch from the amateurs to the pros, it’s a different game, but I’m learning and I’m getting there,’ he added.
Donnelly, 31, made short work of O’Connor in the quarter-final, securing the win via KO within the opening round. A sterner test awaited in the last-four against former Southern Area title holder Robinson, but each of the three judges awarded the contest to the Northern Irishman, scoring the bout 29-28 to set up the final with Fuller.
In the other half of the draw, Fuller brutally dispatched Kingsley ‘Obi’ Egbunike within 32 seconds in the opening quarter-final of the night, while Joshua Ejakpovi saw off the gritty Kaan Hawes on points in their last-eight encounter. However Ejakpovi – the more experienced fighter – could do little to stem the tide against a rampant Fuller in the semi-final with the Maidstone man awarded the contest by all three judges.
That set up a final against the three-time Commonwealth Games contender Donnelly, but it proved to be one fight too many for the brave Fuller, who succumbed to a flurry of punches from the Northern Irishman halfway through the second round, ensuring Donnelly left the arena as the Ultimate Boxxer 5 champion.
QF1: Lenny Fuller bt Kingsley Egbunike (TKO)
QF2: Josh Ejakpovi bt Kaan Hawes (UD)
QF3: Sean Robinson bt Lewis Syrett (UD)
QF4: Steven Donnelly bt Ish O’Connor (KO)
SF1: Fuller bt Ejakpovi (UD)
SF2: Donnelly bt Robinson (UD)
F: Donnelly bt Fuller (TKO)