Advantage Karl Kelly following Victor Rabei title fight postponement claims Jay Byrne

The fact Karl Kelly and Victor Rabei‘s BUI Celtic title fight plays out on ‘Celtic Clash 6’ and not the cancelled ‘The Beginning’ card must hurt Jay Byrne somewhat – but it’s something that the man he manages  should be happy with.

The interesting light welterweight match-up was made by ‘The Negotiator’ for what was meant to be his debut promotional show on Saturday just gone [July 7th].

However, after the National Stadium scrap was shelved, it has been put back a week and now plays out at the atmospheric Good Counsel GAA Club in Drimnagh, this Saturday [July 14th] night bolstering the sixth instalment of the Celtic Clash series.

Not ideal for Byrne personally, but the switch of date and, more importantly, venue plays into Kelly’s hands according to his manager.

The ring used in Good Counsel GAA club this Saturday will be a lot smaller than the notably spacious National Stadium equivalent and BUI Celtic welterweight titleholder Byrne believes that suits the fighter in the boxer-puncher clash of styles.

“The venue change actually benefits Karl,” Byrne told

“The smaller ring will really make a difference and not in a good way to a guy that likes to box on the outside on backfoot.”

The bout has been built as a classic boxer fighter meeting and Team Kelly are certainly not shying away from that narrative.

They have told stories of how their man dropped Rabei [4(1)-0] in an amateur bout and believe he can do the same again.

Byrne admits the Moldovan-born Rathmicheal man should use his skillset to try and outbox the game Kelly but believes the Steven O’Rourke-trained fighter won’t have the discipline to stay away from thudding Monkstown thumper for eight whole rounds.

“Victor will come to outbox Karl and look he should do that as that’s his game. Can he avoid engaging at all?  The jury is out on that. Victor likes to have a scrap at times and, I’m sorry, there is only one winner if it goes into a fight.”


Kelly [1(0)-1(0)] was eventually outboxed by the stylish Lucas Ballingall after taking a massive step up in just his second pro fight in February.

However, Byrne warns fans and Team Rabei not to look too much into that 60-57 points reverse.

The manager, promoter and active fighter points out that Kelly could have defeated the unbeaten prospect – and a fighter Byrne believes is superior to the St Michael;s Inchicore graduate – but for the fact he tired after a competitive first few rounds.

The indication was that his charge cut corners in the build up to the Ballingall fight and the suggestion now is that this hasn’t happened ahead of the eagerly anticipated Dublin derby.

“Karl has been exceptional in camp an absolute top professional in every aspect and that shows the regret and also lessons learned from the Ballingall fight. I feel Ballingall and Karl was all square until his gas ran out and I also feel Ballingall at 9-0 is a superior boxer to Victor and Karl didn’t struggle.”

In fairness to both fighters they are both taking somewhat of a risk this coming Saturday night stepping into the All-Irish realm when most novice pros are still in journeyman mode.

Byrne has proved in his own career that he always see’s potential reward rather than risk and it seems he has passed that mantra on to his fellow Declan Geraghty trained fighter.

The former Irish title challenger claims ‘Little Sexy’ Kelly can achieve in three or four fights what it takes most many years and 10-plus bouts with a victory over his fellow prospect this coming weekend.

“The fact his third fight is a Celtic title shows the benefits of taking step-ups. The six rounds against a quality opponent in Ballingall made sure Karl was eligible to challenge for a title. ”

“Karl will be Irish title eligible having done a four, six, and eight rounder in his first three fights!”

“There’s lads fighting four rounders against nobodies for four or five fights over two years and for what? Karl is entering his third fight and it’s a title fight.”

“Not to mention if he wins this he’s in line for an Irish title fight before the year’s out, so if anyone wants to disagree with they way we do things they need their head examined.”

“If, and only if, he was to lose, what does he lose in his career? It doesn’t damage it.  He’s stepping up two weights and into a title fight so no shame in losing at all and against an unbeaten fighter.”

“Win and he’s taking a step ahead of most in this country in half the time they’re pros.”

With the influx of new pros to the game, it’s fights like that this match up that are ideal for the BUI Celtic title and give the belt a real purpose in the domestic game.

It proves a stepping stone to the Irish title and allows the winner to progress to that level with domestic experience in their back pocket and a good name on their resume.

It also provides more entertaining build-ups and fight nights for fans and while Byrne believes Saturday’s clash is a ‘division two’ encounter, he predicts it will be no less entertaining than a bout between two more established names.

“Being honest  there are levels in this sport and by that I mean personally I think there’s three tiers in our country. At the top you’ve got lads like Gary Cully, Phil Sutcliffe, Tyrone McKenna, Ray Moylette, and the likes up at elite level and then I feel there is a tier below and that is where I feel Karl and Victor are.”

“Although Karl is coming up two weights to Victor’s weight, I still think it gonna be a very good match.”


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