IB OPINION: Rea goes to Malta but it’s Belfast where he wants to be
By Paddy Appleton
Joe Rea had aspirations of fighting in The Odyssey on September 22nd recently but instead he takes to the ring next week in the not so prestigious Malta.
Rea fights German Florian Wildenhof on the undercard of the Scott Dixon/Baker Barakat WBU world title fight but he would have preferred a September date in Belfast.
The 29 year old has travelled the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland (and Germany, Denmark and the US) fighting in what is still a young career, yet the travelling has probably been to his detriment.
The Ballymena fighter took dangerous fights early in his career and a string of six defeats recently arguably put paid to his days of ever headlining shows, but that isn’t Rea’s fault.
The fact that he will forever be associated with that string of defeats is unfair, and May’s Prizefighter showing has done a lot to patch up his reputation as a top-level domestic boxer.
Rea looked assured and confident in the ring at the King’s Hall in May and it was in no small part down to the work he put himself through with respected trainer Kevin Maree.
He has since left Maree and is back in training with a new team for next week’s fight although Wildenhof will not prove to be an easy return to the ring for Rea.
Provided the Irishman keeps working hard and settles into a routine the hope would be that Malta may be a new dawn for the man they call Sugar Rea.
Rea’s problem’s have been well documented in the past and taking fights at such short notice didn’t help the 29 year old in any way.
But with a good fight lined up for next week, and the prospect of taking on Navid Mansouri in Rotherham on the 28th September, it may prove to be that missing The Odyssey show is a blessing in disguise.
A fight on the undercard of the Frampton-Martinez Judgement Day card would have been a fantastic experience and great exposure, but right now Rea needs a few wins.
Starting in Malta and moving on to Rotherham would hopefully improve his record to 10-8-1 and follow that up with another few decent victories on smaller cards and he could rejuvenate himself into a shoo-in for future Belfast bills.
It remains to be seen whether Rea has the desire to keep his head down and work hard at his undoubtedly talented game but he proved he could do it during Prizefighter.
From the day it was announced until the referee held JJ McDonagh’s hand aloft in victory Rea proved that he has the talent and effort, but it’s the desire and slight mismanagement that was lacking previously.
Travelling to Malta for a fight may seem like a terrible step out of the way, out into the unknown, but Irish fighters have a habit of travelling where a career will take them.
Travelling has worked for many of our fighters; too many to mention, but names like Brian Magee, Martin Rogan, John Duddy and Matthew Macklin have fought on a couple of continents.
Joe Rea has the skill, it’s about proving he has the desire to get back in the Belfast mix; to get back to the capital of Irish boxing Rea is going to Malta – there’s an answer there for him next Saturday.
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