Boxing

'This Is One Of The Biggest Shows Ireland Has Had Since The Bernard Dunne Days'

'This Is One Of The Biggest Shows Ireland Has Had Since The Bernard Dunne Days'

The 2018 Irish boxing calendar will finish with a bang this Friday as a blockbuster card takes place at the Royal Theatre, Castlebar. For the first time in six years, a professional boxing event will take place in Mayo and it will be broadcast live on terrestrial television.

Assassin Promotions are determined to haul Irish boxing back into the mainstream and this week is a significant step to that end. Local legend and former European gold medalist Ray Moylette will fight for a WBC rankings belt at the top of a card that will also feature middleweight contender Spike O’Sullivan, Last Man Standing champion Roy Sheahan and BUI Celtic light welterweight champion Victor Rabei.

Rabei's excitement at the bill is palpable. Speaking to Balls.ie, the Moldovan-born Dubliner is quick to stress just how much this event means to the domestic sport.

"This one is one of the biggest shows that the Republic of Ireland has had since the Bernard Dunne 3Arena days. It's very good and a great card to be on."

It’s a phenomenal thing. Even Andy Lee once wrote it off and said boxing in the South (of Ireland) is going down but things like this just... TG4 getting behind Assassin to promote Irish fighters is fantastic. It is a statement. Because it is coming back to life. 2007, 2008, they had big shows but since then it was kind of dead in the Republic. It's so good to see it is coming back to life.

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A year after his debut, Rabei's remarkable rise saw him clinch a BUI belt at Celtic Clash 6 in a barnstormer of a bout against Karl Kelly. It was a triumph all the more satisfying given the severe injury troubles that hindered his preparation in the build-up to the fight.

"I had real problems with my elbow and my thumb which caused me to not be able to punch."

"It was actually way before the fight, I was hoping it would go away. I had it wrapped up throughout my camp and it still kept at me but then in the fight, I didn't feel it at all. It must have been the adrenaline kicking in."

That night there was an unmovable grin across Victor Rabei's face regardless of punishment endured and even now the delight he experienced during the contest is obvious.

It was a fantastic fight. It was one of the fights I've enjoyed most. First of all, because of the eight rounds. I have only had four before. Going up to more rounds, you can really take a step back. We had a plan throughout the fight. With four rounds, you don’t really have time to plan it out. You just go in and before you know it you are back out. This one we had a plan for round one, round two, round three, etc.

I landed a few big shots that I thought might have stopped him but it didn’t, he was so tough. He took them on the chin and kept coming forward. Thankfully we won, that was the main goal.

While Friday's eagerly-anticipated card is a crucial move in the right direction, there are even more momentous events on the horizon. 2019 will bring major professional boxing cards in the Republic of Ireland with television deals already in the works. For Victor Rabei, there is an unmistakable relief at the prospect of that.

"It is going to get so much better. Bigger fights, bigger audiences. Looking for bigger venues. Things are starting to look good."

SEE ALSO: 'No Irish Publishers Were Interested. There Were Two In The UK And Five In The US'

Maurice Brosnan

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