Boxing

Steven Donnelly hopes to have Indian sign over semi-final opponent this time around after Glasgow disappointment

Steven Donnelly is going for gold in his third consecutive Commonwealth Games - but first he must get past India's Vikas Krishan. Picture by Sportsfile

IT was an Indian boxer who ended Steven Donnelly’s interest at the semi-final stage four years ago, and the Ballymena man is determined to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself this morning.

Donnelly looked to have done all the hard work in Glasgow when he took a split decision win over gold medal favourite Custio Clayton, the highly-rated Canadian who is now a 14-0 pro.

But he had to settle for bronze after a below-par performance against Mandeep Jangra ended his hopes of topping the podium – a regret that has niggled at him ever since.

Now campaigning at middleweight instead of his more familiar welter, it is 26-year-old police officer Vikas Krishan who stands between him and a place in tomorrow’s decider against either Dieudonne Wilfried Seyi Ntsengue from Cameroon or Scotland’s John Docherty.

And Donnelly insists he is ready to right the wrong from four years ago.

“It’s India again, and it’s on Friday 13th too – somebody reminded me of that earlier and I was like ‘what do I want to know that for?’” he laughed.

“Superstition’s for losers though. I did a test match with him in Canberra so I know what he’s like.

“He’s very good, he’s southpaw, but he gets tired. I’ll see what the tactics are tomorrow but I said to John ‘should I just go for it for three rounds, flat out?’

But then I’ll maybe just walk on to shots.

“I’m far better when I counter-punch so I might lean back, keep it long, be comfortable, start fast, big jab… we’ll see what happens.

“My body shots were cracker today but I just need to keep the hands up against this guy.”

Donnelly has found himself giving away height and reach advantage in all his fights so far, but says it has been a welcome relief to not have any concerns about making the weight.

“I weighed in at 73.2 kilos – I’m a blown-up welter, that’s being honest,” said the 29-year-old Rio Olympian.

“Everybody’s making the weight okay, no-one’s struggling. Because of the weather, everyone’s grand. In Rio I was having to go and train with sweat gear, after my fights I had to go and train, then at the Europeans I was down at the sauna… I was just f**ked whereas now I don’t even worry about it. It’s not in my head.

“The guys are a lot bigger though. I’m strong on the inside but you can feel the difference – they’re taller as well. You see the likes of big John Doc and Ben Whittaker, they’re nearly a foot taller than me.”

And lessons have also been learned from Glasgow.

Then, the day before his medal fight, Donnelly went shopping in the city centre with team-mate Connor Coyle but this time around he will be doing as little as possible before the first bell rings.

“I’ll be staying in the room. Last time I was buzzing, I was all go, on Facebook flat out, but this time I’m calm.

“That’s it done, Commonwealth bronze, not much… everyone’s getting them. I’m just focused on changing that now.

“I’m feeling good.”

BOXING SCHEDULE

Today

51kg semi-final: Carly McNaul v Christine Ongare (Kenya) (3.15am approx)

52kg semi-final: Brendan Irvine v Reece McFadden (Scotland) (4.45am approx)

60kg semi-final: James McGivern v Manish Kaushik (India) (5am approx)

57kg semi-final: Michaela Walsh v Alexis Pritchard (NZ) (9.30am approx)

56kg semi-final: Kurt Walker v Eric Basran (Canada) (10.30am approx)

69kg semi-final: Aidan Walsh v Winston Hill (Fiji) (11am approx)

75kg semi-final: Steven Donnelly v Vikas Krishan (India) (11.30am approx)

Tomorrow

48kg final: Kristina O’Hara v Mary Kom (India) (9.30am)

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