Donnie Palmer is 0-1 in his political career. His prospects of ever winning a City Council seat are dim at best after a lopsided loss to District 3 City Councillor Frank Baker last week.
But Palmer’s more notable career as a professional boxer is definitely on the upswing. The 6-foot-7 Codman Square native is in the Austrian Alps this week, sparring with world champion Ukrainian heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko, one of the greatest fighters in the sport’s history, by most accounts. Palmer, 31, was brought in to help Klitschko get in shape for the champ’s next big fight against British boxer Tyson Fury on Nov. 28 in Germany.
Palmer, who is now 6-1-1 as a pro after losing a disappointing decision to Daniel Pasciolla last month in New Hampshire, is also getting tuned up for his next bout. He will fight former Chinese Olympian Zhang Zhilei in an undercard set for Nov. 21 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
“This is a huge opportunity for Donnie,” said Danny Kelly, the owner of the Dorchester Boxing Club where Palmer has trained for the last several years. “If he beats this guy, he gets a shot at some really big fights.”
Speaking to the Reporter this week from Klitschko’s training camp at the Stanglwirt Hotel in Austria, Palmer, one of several heavyweight sparring partners who rotate in to face off with the undefeated champ, said the experience so far has been the time of his life. “I’m living the dream right now,” he said, calling the undefeated champ, “a master in the ring.”
“He’s a monster, but he works with you and teaches you,” said Palmer, who has gone as many as three consecutive rounds with Klitschko this week— longer, he says, than any other training partners. “Three rounds is a long stretch; he usually puts out his other sparring partners. I’m learning a lot. I feel like my confidence has grown huge because I was the best one in sparring camp.”
Palmer says he has a lot of training to do to get ready for Zhilei, a southpaw who won a silver medal for China in the 2008 Beijing Games and is 1-0 since debuting as a pro boxer last year. “I feel like I’m behind. I’m not as sharp as I know I can be because of the campaign. It’s frustrating because I know what I can do,” he said.
As for Klitschko, Palmer says that he has never seen such an impressive display of power and discipline in a fighter. The champ, Palmer predicts, will defeat his challenger.“I give Fury five or six rounds before he’s knocked out,” said Palmer. “Fury’s going to try to come out and go southpaw on him and that’s the whole reason I’m here. I can move southpaw pretty well. But it’s uncomfortable to go southpaw with this guy. [Fury’s] gonna learn that.”