There was a bit of everything tonight in the Polish holiday town of Wałcz as small hall Irish boxing made its post-pandemic return.
It was the Korona Hotel rather than Good Counsel GAA club or the Devenish as Slater Sports Consultancy looked beyond these shores for activity.
And activity there was with three pro debuts – one which ended in a shock defeat – five knockouts, and six wins overall, not to mention a dramatic headliner.
The night began disastrously with debutant Aaron O’Reilly losing his first fight as a pro. The Dublin light welter was in against a game foe in Artur Gierczak and was outworked in a close fight.
O’Reilly landed some smart shots, especially the uppercut inside, but also got caught on the way out and the constant pressure of Gierczak in a messy fight swayed the judges.
After that it was the turn of Ryan O’Rourke and the Inchicore welterweight dominated veteran Maurycy Gojko over six. His second time over the distance, O’Rourke kept things long initially before gradually and consistently upping the pace.
Gojko, who made his debut before 21-year-old O’Rourke was even born, had his nose bloodied and was hanging on for much of the final two rounds – resulting in a points deduction in the sixth.
The second Irish debut of the night went much better with Tiernan Bradley coasting his way to a first round stoppage against the overmatched Kornel Cendrowski.
A left hook put the Pole down almost instantly and, as he continued to come forward wildly, Bradley toyed, teased, and countered until the referee waved the contest off.
Returning after over a year out, former European and British title challenger Paul Hyland Jr stopped Polish veteran Krzysztof Rogowski in the third round.
The Belfast lightweight eased his way through the first two rounds before taking things up a notch in the third to claim a finish and move to 21(8)-2(2).
A pre-pandemic fight with former world champ Terry Flanagan had been made but remains to be seen whether this will be refixed. Meanwhile, both Sean McComb and Gary Cully have both called for a domestic dust-up.
The third and final debut of the night saw super middleweight Tony Browne take to the ring.
The Dubliner had a late change of opponent with Jan Balog stepping in and Browne would blow away the experienced Czech inside a round for a perfect professional start.
Bodyshots had Balog down initially – and somewhat unconvincingly. Perhaps knowing he was not able or in shape to last the distance, Balog sought to trade, punching with Browne, and ‘Super Fly’ was able to detonate a sweet right towards the end of the round to put his opponent down and out.
The penultimate bout of the evening had Dylan Moran come through a competitive opponent
The Waterford welter, who is keeping busy ahead of a big fight soon, had his hands full initially with Maciej Wazny before showing his superiority and scoring a stoppage.
Wazny was game and looked fight with Moran but the timing of ‘The Real Deal’ was the difference, eventually putting the Pole down twice in the third and forcing the referee to wave the contest off.
Moran’s record now stands at 15(7)-1(1), and a long-awaited showdown with Deniz Ilbay is hopeful the next port of call.
In the headline fight at the holiday resort Victor Rabei was handed a banana skin in Islam Mayrasaltanov
Mayrasaltanov is a notable mixed martial artist in Poland and was making his debut tonight amidst some fanfare and had Rabei in a spot of bother before being taken out in the second.
A quiet opener saw ‘Slick Vic’ evade the somewhat agricultural swings of Mayrasaltanov before it all exploded in round two.
Pushing forward, Rabei was caught by a chopping right hand that buckled his knees and almost saw him touch down. The Moldovan-Dub, however, swung into action and targeted the body of the aggressive Mayrasaltanov, knocking him down painfully twice.
Switching upstairs, Rabei forced a glove to graze the canvas and the referee intervened to round off the night.
Rabei improves to 10(3)-0 and is set now, hopefully, for a big fight in America under the Star Boxing banner.