One of the most high-risk, high-reward moves in boxing is to switch stance mid-fight. There is an inherent gamble in the strategy. Two decisive possible outcomes. The positive is that your opponent can become greatly disorientated. However, it is just as easy that you are the one left floundering.
Victor Rabei and his pad-man dance around an elevated ring in the corner of Colosseum gym in Inchicore, Dublin. The crack of leather glove on pad intertwines with the rattle of barbells and weights. The Moldovan-born Dubliner starts out as a southpaw, a right jab poked forward while the left looms ominously under his chin. Inconspicuously, his feet cross, usually a cardinal sin of the sport. Yet the crack of leather-on-leather continues uninterrupted and Rabei seamlessly continues out of the orthodox stance. At ease.
I’m taking it small steps at the moment but I do want to get to that World Title level. At the moment, get this BUI Celtic Title. After that go for an Irish title, then maybe the British scene and a European title. Then you are ranked for the Worlds and with the big boys. I'm taking it one step at a time to get to that level. Thankfully, I have sponsors which helps me get to that goal. Other boxers don’t have that so have to work.
After a successful pro debut last year, Victor Rabei was due to fight Karl Kelly in the national stadium at the start of July for the vacant BUI Celtic light welterweight title. However that JB Promotions 'the Beginning’ show was canceled less than nine days out. Another discouraging chapter in the sad tale of pro boxing in the capital.
Yet for those embers and ashes, Boxing Ireland Promotions continues to signal handily fly the flag south of the border and saved the fight. It will feature on the ‘Celtic Clash 6‘ bill at Good Counsel GAA Club on Saturday, July 14th.
It was a big disappointment for the fans. To me, it is only a week later but a lot of my friends have the 14th booked for Longitude festival. A lot of my supporters won't be there, unfortunately. I got the best outcome out of the situation. The show got canceled on the 7th and I'm fighting on the 14th. A lot of others fighters aren’t fighting until the 28th, 29th which extends their camp that much longer.
I think it hurts the sport (when) this type of thing happens. But Ireland, especially the south of Ireland, is a small country as it is. We don’t have that many shows so we need to all get along and help eachother out. Then in the next year or two years, we can have an event like Belfast (Michael Conlan's homecoming) down here in Ireland. There is absolutely no excuse why it wouldn’t happen. Fill out the 3Arena, get Katie Taylor back home!
Irish boxing is thriving but it is happening in the margins. It is almost ten years since Bernard Dunne's world title fight at the 02 Arena and little has threatened to match it since. While Rabei remains undeterred in his focus, he hopes the capital can soon get the night it deserves.
Everyone is fighting abroad. There is no reason why we shouldn’t get them all home. It would be a great night of boxing. Dublin is a massive city with a population of 1.3 million. Belfast isn't that big and can fill out stadiums. Once we get big shows in Dublin, I know people will get behind the boxers.
Next week is the first step towards that, and his only hope is that the crowd matches the occasion.
"You don’t get this, it is the only time you will get this in Dublin. People travel to Belfast to travel to see the likes of Mick Conlan and them. We are close to the same level. You are getting great scraps for half the value and it is in your own city. It is on your doorstep.
It is at home. We have to keep it here."