Super featherweight Zelfa ‘Brown Flash’ Barrett 24-1 (15) needed to rely on his power to turn around his fight against Eric ‘Lilywhite Lightning’ Donovan 12-1 (7) stopping him in the eighth round of their 10-round contest at the Matchroom Fight Camp in Brentwood, Essex on Friday night.
Former amateur star Donovan, 35, of Ireland got off to a flyer, outboxing and outworking Barrett for much of the first five rounds.
Realising he had to change the dynamic of the fight, Mancunian Barrett, 27, landed a crushing left hook in the seventh round that sent Donovan to the canvas. As he was trying to ride out the round another Barrett salvo sent him down again right at the bell.
The minute rest didn’t help Donovan much as Barrett jumped on his man in the eighth, looking to get him out of there. The finish came courtesy of another big left hook that left Donovan flat on his back.
Referee Howard Foster waved off the fight at the 1:35 mark.
“He’s a good boxer, he was catching me, I had to dig deep and throw and I caught him,” Barrett said.
“I’m a bit annoyed because it was my Matchroom debut, but it is what it is.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn praised Barrett for overcoming the early deficit to deliver a showstopping knockout.
“He came back from the depths, I had him 4-1 down after five,” Hearn said.
“In this kind of environment, without a crowd, sometimes you come in and are a little bit flat, and all of a sudden, your career can be completely turned on its head, we saw it with Jono Carroll this week.
“And that nearly happened to Zelfa Barrett tonight.
“In the end it was his power that shone through. Unbelievable finish, one of the knockouts of the year. This guy has such a big future.
“Eric Donovan is devasted. He gave everything and he’ll be back as well.”