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Boxing | Donovan falls short in IBF intercontinental title bout

Eric Donovan has suffered the first defeat of his professional career in his title fight against Zelfa Barrett for the vacant IBF intercontinental belt.

The Kildare boxer, 35, has been knocked out in the eighth round of the super-featherweight bout at Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Square Garden in London.

Donovan had the better of the opening six rounds before being floored twice by his Manchester opponent in the seventh.

Referee Howard Foster ended the fight when Commonwealth champion Barrett sent ‘Lilywhite’ to the canvas again in the eighth, ending the fight one minute and 35 seconds into the round.

Donovan, who had won all 12 of his previous professional fights, made his way to the ring to the soundtrack of ‘Something Inside So Strong'.

‘Lilywhite’ was the aggressor in the first round, his southpaw stance psoing the orthodox Barrett plenty of problems.

The Irish fighter landed some decent body shots in the early rounds, but was also caught with some crisp counters from his 27-year-old opponent.

Donovan appeared to rock Barrett in the fifth with an eye-catching combination, before producing plenty more good work in the sixth.

The fight turned midway through the seventh round when Barrett caught Donovan with a juddering left hook, knocking ‘Lilywhite’ flat on his back.

Donovan was back on his feet immediately, and traded bravely as the round descended into a slugfest. However, he slumped to the canvas again 10 seconds before the bell following another big left and a right in quick succession from Barrett.

Barrett (24-1) caught Donovan flush with a massive left hook midway through the next round, causing Foster to intervene and bring the fight to an end.

"Eric Donovan, we've said it all week, what a lovely, lovely man,” Eddie Hearn said afterwards.

“He's devastated. He gave everything.”

Victory for Barrett sees him claim the vacant IBF intercontinental belt, and earns the Mancunian a coveted world ranking.

Despite his first professional defeat, Donovan will earn plenty of attention and plaudits for his performance.

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