Steven Donnelly hailed his impressive victory in his memorable World Series of Boxing debut as “the best win of my career”.
The Ballymena boxer announced his arrival on the WSB stage in some style with a emphatic victory against last year’s winner Madiyar Ashkeyev from the Astana Aralans team of Kazakhstan.
For the first time in his career Donnelly entered the ring without the amateur vest on his back, representing The Hussars of Poland and he certainly didn’t look out of place once the first bell sounded.
This was also Donnelly’s first experience at boxing five rounds of three minutes as opposed to the three rounds he was used to at senior level but he certainly set the pace with fast combinations coming in rapid bursts and took the first round on all judges’ cards.
The second round was similar to the first for the first 2 minutes with Donnelly now and again off-loading heavy right hand counters and although Ashkeyev started to come into the fight in the last minute, Donnelly still took the second on the judges’ cards.
Ashkeyev started the third round as he finished the second as he set to grind Donnelly down, cutting off the ring and off-loading some heavy shots to take the round on all judges cards.
The fourth round was crucial in the overall context of the fight and Donnelly again had to weather the storm, with his feet and fast hands getting him out of trouble on a number of occasions before the Ballymena man appeared to find his second wind in the second half of the round and he did enough to claim the judges’ verdict for that round.
The fifth consisted of Donnelly again picking his shots and frustrating Ashkeyev. With a minute to go Donnelly seemed to become the aggressor and looked to be hurting Ashkeyev to the body.
As the final bell sounded Donnelly had his hand raised to a rapturous applause from the Warsaw crowd. It completed a fantastic victory for the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, whose display will have made WSB sit up and take notice.
Donnelly admitted he was “delighted” with his performance.
“I sacrificed Christmas and trained like a madman for months and that was the outcome.
“It is by far the best win of my career and it just shows that hard work pays off.
It came exactly a year to the day since I won the Irish senior title so that just made it even more memorable,” added Steven.
The Dunfane man will now return home for treatment to a hand injury ahead of the next round of WSB matches.