Like the younger son in the ubiquitous parable, the Dublin light welter has been wasteful over the years, electing against the disciplined life in favour of a more carefree existence.
Drawing the comparison further, the former amateur of note and noted puncher, who at various stages of his career has been highlighted as one to watch, has returned home to boxing willing to earn his stripes again – but, just like the prodigal son who was willing to work as a servant, he has found himself accepted straight back into the fold.
After a two-year lay-off and a number of false dawns, the 29-year-old has been gifted the ultimate opportunity for a fighter based in Ireland outside of Belfast.
Hanney is not only straight into an Irish title fight [subject to sanctioning] on the Saturday March 30th ‘Clash of the Titans’ card, he will take on Victor Rabei live on Irish terrestrial television via TG4.
Indeed, it appears that Hanney, win or lose come next month, will be one half of a clash that promises to be so special it will go down as a pivotal moment in Irish boxing’s relationship with TV.
It’s the kind of opportunity his opponent had to slog to get, taking domestic risks to maneuvere his way toward the spotlight, and it’s a chance Hanney is delighted to both secure and one he believes he will take.
“I have been out for a while,” Hanney, whose last bout was a stoppage defeat to Tyrone McKenna, told Irish-Boxing.com.
“I was a bit upset over the last fight, I was so disappointed after it just turned me off it. I have been quietly ticking over a for a good while now.”
“I have been in the gym. This year I knew I was going to come back and I was planning on a big year,” he added before taking responsibility for the failure to fulfill his potential thus far.
“I was the master of my own downfall. I didn’t do the right things in my last camp. I didn’t commit, I didn’t dedicate. That is no one’s fault but my own.”
While Hanney was planning to leave his mark in 2019, he was expecting a ‘re-earn your stripes period’ and admits even he is surprised he has been given the chance to become a titleholder so early into the comeback.
If the bout isn’t sanctioned for the vacant Irish light welter belt, Rabei’s BUI Celtic strap will go on the line but all parties are confident it will soon be cleared for the national title.
“The Irish title was one of my main goals this year and I am delighted I get to take it in my first fight,” he said.
The boxing consensus would suggest ‘The Wizard’ would be better served with a warm-up bout before returning to domestic level. A ring rust cleansing clash would be no harm and it may suit Hanney to get the feel of the ring again but away from the big time spotlight.
However, the confident puncher claims the setting, the prize, and the opponent all suit him perfectly.
“It’s pressure for some people, but the way I look at it is, if I get the right sparring and I am in the right condition there is going to be no problem, no problem at all – and I know I’ll get that sparring.”
“I need something like this in front of me to push me on. If I have a journeyman or someone that isn’t great I might go laxidazy. It’s not like that with Victor. I am delighted he has taken the fight and I know it’s going to be a good fight.”
Another key aspect to Hanney’s confidence is the team he now has around him. Boxing Ireland and Stephen Sharpe in particular, love a second chance story, and in Eddie Hyland they believe they have ideal coach, even father figure, for punchers finding their way again.
Hanney seems to agree and admits that the Irish-Boxing.com Trainer of the Year is exactly the kind of strict mentor he needs.
“Eddie is exactly who I need to train with,” he notes.
“He doesn’t take any shit, he says it as it is and if your not doing you will be doing it. Suits me time wise too because I work every day.”
“In work they are giving me a bit time of too and sponsors are coming on board. Everything is kinda falling into place right now, which is bad timing for Victor.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)