“P*ssed Off” Victor Rabei believes he still holds the advantages following title change


Victor Rabei [6(2)-0] puts his BUI Celtic light welterweight title on the line in a Dublin derby this Saturday night.

Facing Jake Hanney [5(4)-1(1)] in the ‘Clash of the Titans’ chief support at the National Stadium, live on TG4, Rabei is aiming to make the breakthrough to the next level and become a headliner in his own right.

However, the Rathmichael man is somewhat frustrated going into the fight.

The match-up was initially proposed to be, subject to authorisation, a vacant Irish title fight but is now a title defence for Rabei.

The full story will probably never surface but there seemed to be a breakdown in communication somewhere along the line, with it being believed that Hanney, who has not fought in two years and lost to Tyrone McKenna in a BUI Celtic title challenge last time out, was required to have a BUI-observed spar before the fight would be cleared for the Irish title.

However, it later emerged that the inspected spar was actually to enable Hanney to challenge for Rabei’s belt.

Considering the fight will still be shown live on TG4, Team Hanney do not seem overly pushed on this issue – and, with his lay-off in mind, two fewer rounds could suit the inner-city 29-year-old.

On the other hand, the champion himself admits that it frustrated him.

“It pissed me off, to be honest,” he told Irish-Boxing.com

“What could have made it to be an Irish title was if they got Jake a four rounder before. I’m saying what I’ve heard off some of the officials. If they got a four rounder so they could see that he was back in the ring then the Irish title could have been on the line.”

“I don’t think… I’m not even going to get into it, not my problem.”

The episode annoys Rabei who notes that the risk-reward balance has swung and the 25-year-old claims that he could have sought a different fight – but didn’t.

The Moldova-born Dub explained how “the Irish title would have been ideal because there’s a lot more reward than risk for me whereas now I’m just defending my Celtic belt and there’s a lot more to lose than to win.”

“I still had the option to fight a journeyman and I still would’ve got TV but I think it would have been very unfair on the people who got tickets from me so I’m still going ahead with this fight.”

While the fight has become, in theory, riskier, Rabei approaches the bout full of confidence, feeling that he holds all the advantages.

While East Wall’s Hanney has spoken of his transformation under top coach Eddie Hyland, Rabei believes consistency is key.

“Advantage – I think I’ll be a lot fitter on the night.”

“Advantage – I’ve done the eight rounds before.”

“Advantage – I’ve been more active”

“I’ve stayed in the gym. I know that he’s saying that he’s very fit and he’s this and he’s that but he’s trained since October and before that he’s been out whereas I’ve been training continuously for the last two years.”

“First thing he needs to do is show up in the ring and perform. He’s been out of the ring for two years now and is coming off a bad loss. He’s had six fights in six years, to me that shows he’s lacking discipline and lacking motivation. I’m glad he’s got me to give him extra motivation to do well.”

Rabei is happy to report that he has had the best camp of his career and feels everything has been tailored perfectly for ‘The Wizard’ Hanney.

The Steven O’Rourke-trained fighter detailed how “Everything’s gone brilliantly in this camp so it’s just a matter of turning it up and showing it to everyone.”

“I’ve had the perfect sparring partners for Jake. What’s Jake going to bring to me? I think Jake’s going to think he’s a big puncher, he’s going to come at me for the first three or four rounds and try to absolutely nail me.”

“I had James Tennyson in for sparring and I don’t think Jake hits anywhere near as hard as him. I did six rounds with him and felt good then I had Davey Oliver Joyce for pressure, he’s one of the best Irish pressure fighters ever – he’d make a fit man look unfit, he’s brilliant.”

“I’ve also had sparring with Mikey McKinson from England, a big lad, I’ve been sparring bigger lads throughout training – Cillian Reardon, Francy Luzoho, sparring’s been brilliant, my strength work has been brilliant, fitness, everything has been fantastic.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

Tickets for ‘Clash of the Titans’ cost €40 (general), €60 (ringside), and €100 (VIP) and are available from the boxers involved or Ticketmaster (CLICK HERE).

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]