Irish lightweight Eric Donovan won on his World Series of Boxing debut following an “Almaty” dust up with Branamir Stankovic on Friday evening.
The St Michael’s Athy southpaw, fighting for the Astana Arlans against the Italia Thunder lightweight, earned a unanimous (48-47,50-45,48-47) decision in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Stankovic beat Donovan’s Irish team-mate John Joe Nevin, a silver medal winner at London 2012, on a split decision in Wales last month.
But there was to be no Irish double for the Serb on this occasion, as Donovan, a five-time Irish Elite champion, had the edge throughout, and the 2010 European bronze medallist had his newly acquired Kazakh fan club on their feet in the fourth.
Donovan cornered his man in that frame and found the target with at least four clean shots to the head. Stankovic, who edged the third, managed to get back into the centre of the ring following that blizzard and found the target with some good responses.
But Donovan was back on his case moment later and made a sufficient enough impression with two of the three judges (10-9,10-9,9-10) to take the stanza and the lead into the fifth.
It was a thrilling contest, one of the best of the five-bout match and it helped the Arlans into a 2-0 advantage from the first two fights.
Sergiy Dereyanchenko, who was beaten by Darren O’Neill in the past, then sealed the win for the Arlans with a unanimous decision over Michel Tavers of France from the third bout of the session.
The Italians, the defending WSB champions who have re-signed Willie McLaughlin for the 2012/13 season, have now suffered two losses this term.
Conrad Cummings (Mexico Guerreros), Sean Turner (USA Knockouts), Donovan’s St Michael’s Athy team-mate David Oliver Joyce (German Eagles) and Joe Ward (British Lionhearts) will also be in action this weekend.