Plenty of water has passed under the Wolfe Tone and Thomond bridges since Galway’s Kieran Molloy and Limerick’s Paddy Donovan claimed AIBA World Junior bronze and silver for Ireland behind the former Iron Curtain in 2013 and 2015.
Both men meet in an all-southpaw welterweight battle on Elite finals night at the National Stadium on Saturday, with Molloy of the Oughterard BC putting the 69kg title he won for the first time last year on the line against the Treaty City lefty.
Molloy had to settle for lightweight bronze at the World Juniors in Ukraine six years ago after he suffered a freak leg injury versus Moldova’s Vladislav Tugui in the first round and had to be lifted out of the ring in Kiev.
Two years later, Donovan went all the way to the 60kg final in Russia but lost to Turkey’s Tugrulhan Erdemir after a tight three-rounder in St Petersburg.
The Connacht and Munster pair doubled up at welter in last March’s three-match tour of the USA where both Irishmen, with Irish head coach Zaur Antia in the corner, convincingly beat World No. 8 ranked Quinton Randall who had ex Irish head coach Billy Walsh working his corner.
Molloy decisioned Dublin’s Luke Maguire in the semi-finals last weekend and is anticipating a cracking three-rounder against the Our Lady of Lourdes BC man.
“It was great to get it over and done with now and focus on the final. I’m very confident of getting the job done again and retaining my title next weekend, he said.
“The final will be another fight for me, another platform working toward the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I don’t feel any pressure and I’m confident in my own ability. He’s (Donovan) a good boxer and it should be a cracking final.”
Donovan beat Antrim’s 2018 Commonwealth finalist Aidan Walsh in the last four and believes his meeting with Molloy will go all the way down to the final bell.
“It ’s going to be a great matchup (versus Molloy), southpaw versus southpaw,” said Donovan.
“It’s my best (Walsh bout) in the tournament so far performance wise. I’ve lots to work on but can’t complain, it’s a big win for me.
“I had a tough side of the draw with Dean Walsh, Aidan Walsh and Eugene McKeever. I’m so grateful that I’ve come through a very tough side of the best weight class.”
Meanwhile, Jelena Jelic is due to arrive in Dublin tomorrow ahead of her international bout with World Elite champion Kellie Harrington on Elite finals night.
The Serb has shared the ring with some of the best on the planet, including Katie Katie, and is not overawed about meeting the St Mary’s BC (Dublin) AIBA World No.1 lightweight.
“I have fought the best in the world several times and I am more than ready for it again,” said the 23-year-old who boxes out of the Novi Sad BC in Serbia.
(Jelic was beaten by Taylor on a Kanturk BC hosted show at the Mallow GAA Club in 2016)