AMIR KHAN is backing reformed bad boy Steven Donnelly to beat the bullies to Ultimate Boxxer glory on Friday night.
The former Irish Olympian lost two years of his promising career to destructive partying and street fights after the heartbreak of falling short of a medal at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
But, after having a severe hangover interrupted by his mentor, he is back to winning ways as a professional and the favourite to win the Golden Robe and £16,000 at the O2 Indigo.
Previous installments of the 3x3min format have favoured heavy-handed sluggers but Olympic 2004 silver winner and UB5 commentator Khan believes the Ballymena man’s class will shine through.
The ex-world champ told SunSport: “Amateur pedigree is going to be important but this is professional boxing, with smaller gloves and no headguards, it is a much more brutal sport.
“Casual boxing fans like a bully, they like to see the big man who marches forward and looks for the knockout over the more technical and skilful boxer.
“But Donnelly will have boxed guys that have tried to bully and overpower him in the amateurs, so he will be used to it and will have plenty of tricks to overcome it.
“I had a very amateur style when I turned professional but I was fast and accurate and that is how my knockouts came.”
Donnelly, 31, has only won one of his six pro fights inside the distance but he’s confident of knocking his rivals out of the competition now he is finished knocking back drinks.
Eight years ago he was hellbent on throwing his talent down the drain but now he’s 27 minutes away from becoming a major super-welterweight contender again.
The Irish 2016 Olympian said: “After the Delhi Commonwealth Games I had a couple of years out of the ring doing things I should not have been doing, going down that wrong road that a lot of boxers go down when they suffer a painful disappointment.
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“Luckily my coach Gerry Hamill came to my house one Sunday morning, I had not long been in from the night out before, and he told me wise up and use my talent.
“I was expected to do well at Delhi and when it didn’t happen it sent me down a mad path but now I am on the straight and narrow and it is my motivation to fulfil my talent.
“I was boxing 64kgs in Delhi but I managed to eat and drink myself up to 75kgs, which was a lot for me and left me with a fat face. But I worked it all off running the roads and it will make a win on Friday even more worthwhile.”
UB5 is live on BT Sport and their dedicated YouTube channel from 8pm on Friday, September 20. Limited tickets are still available at www.ultimateboxxer.com/tickets
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