Andy Lee has praised compatriot Paddy Donovan ahead of the welterweight’s return on Saturday.
As the undefeated rising star prepares to fight for his first title as a professional against Danny Ball, the former world middleweight champion has become Donovan’s invaluable chief second.
The 24-year-old Donovan was a celebrated Irish amateur boxer who compiled a sterling 161-6 record and captured 13 national titles, in addition to a silver medal at the prestigious AIBA World Junior Championships.
The Limerick fighter, born in Ennis, Ireland, trains with Lee in Dublin; 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 hanging up his gloves and perhaps joining their exclusive club.
“I am a welterweight and don’t have problems making weight,” Donovan said. “But I feel brilliant, strong.
“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 is the cousin to unbeaten lineal and reigning World Boxing Council World Heavyweight Champion Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury.
He not only trains Paddy, he also co-manages him along with New York-based attorney Keith Sullivan.
Andy Lee praises Paddy Donovan
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 saw, 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. 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.
“He doesn’t have to work with a world champion, but it 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.
“Also, my working with Adam Booth. I’m finding a way to blend it all.”
Presently, Lee is working in the Dublin gym with Paddy and former heavyweight champion Joseph Parker for his fight next month against Deontay Wilder.
He also oversees Scottish heavyweight Nick Campbell.
“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 a world champion. He 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 can 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. It’s open 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.”
Cameron vs Taylor 2
Donovan vs. Ball is showcased on a DAZN PPV card by Matchroom Boxing. The event is headlined by the rematch between undisputed world super lightweight champion Chantelle Cameron (18-0) and Katie Taylor (21-1).
Cameron vs Taylor 2 streams live from 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland. Donovan vs. Ball is a ten-round about for the vacant World Boxing Association Continental Welterweight Championship.