The all-Irish fight is back in vogue. In fact so much so that when Victor Rabei [3(0)-0] demanded a step up for his fourth pro fight Assassin Promotions set about finding a domestic rival.
The Moldovan-Dub probably would have accepted a more noteworthy journeyman, one with the odd upset on his record or even a fight regular with a reputation for causing prospects problems.
However, Assassin surmised an Irish opponent would grant him his step-up wish as well bring a lot more to the Last Man Standing show and indeed to the table for the Steven O’Rourke-trained fighter.
In an interesting insight to promotional thinking, Conor Slater or Assassin explained why Mark Morris [3(1)-1(1)] and not the likes of a foreign fighter with a padded winning record will man the opposite corner when the prospect fights for the first time in 2018.
“When we first sat down with Victor he wanted to be moved along quickly. We are targeting a busy year with dates in the UK lined up already and with more shows in Ireland he will have no shortage of outings.”
“We discussed the plan, and we wanted another four rounder, but a step up in class. All going well on March 3rd he will progress to six rounders. I don’t see the point in fighters fighting the same level of opponent until they are 15-0 and then stepping up drastically in a 10 rounder. I think it’s perfect for Victor to step up in a four rounder, and then move onto sixes.
“Andy Jennings is the matchmaker, and he came back with Morris, and the lads who know him better said that it’s a cracking little fight and Victor should win, but it will be an acid test of sorts.”
“Again, Victor wanted to be stepped up, he is an exciting fighter, who perhaps is waiting for that come out fight where he can really show off how good he is, and I think this will be the time. We could have stepped him up against a tough foreign kid with a winning record, but I think this does wonders for his profile.”
‘The Reaper’ is certainly a test for any fighter in just their fourth fight. The Belfast boxer may not have been overly active since turning over in 2013 – he has just four fights to his name – but he packs a punch and is adamant he is coming to win come March 3rd.
Regardless, Assassin are confident their new signing will produce the goods a register win number one in what could prove to be a break out year.
“Obviously I am in Victor’s camp, and I don’t want to speak on behalf of the other lads, but I think it has the potential to be a great fight from early on. Morris is a puncher, and I think once Victor boxes clever in the opening round, he should be able to come through this fight.”
“There’s a chance that if Victor is busy enough he could stop him late. But it should be a great fight nonetheless.”
While Slater and boss Kaz Evans would have taken the fight with Rabei’s progression in mind, Slater also admits the all-Irish nature of the dust-up also benefits their TG4-broadcast Last Man Standing card.
The derby element he explains, increases interest, ticket sales, and excitement levels, and is a concept he feels has helped Irish boxing across the board.
“I love the idea of all Irish-fights, and I think the lads would agree with me,” the youthful Assassin team member continued.
“I think even if you have an unbeaten Irish boxer fighting an Irish ‘journeyman’ it just adds something special. All Irish fights will always be competitive. I love the fact that we will get eigh Irish guys pitted against each other in Last Man, and also have a cracking fight between [Craig] O Brien and [Jay] Byrne.”
“Also, Leonard Gunning’s show on March 24th, has to be said, that [Stephen McAfee v Colin O’Donovan] is a great match-up. It would have been easy to put one of them in against a foreign opponent for the Celtic title, but why not give Irish boxers the chance”
“In terms of the benefit to promoters, I think with the likes of Byrne-Whitehouse and Byrne-O’Brien you have a match-up of two great ticket sellers. There’s extra excitement around the show. It’s easier for fans to get emotionally involved in the fight, and there’s always a narrative.”
Returning his focus back to Rabei, Slater explained the team behind Ray Moylette, Darren Cruise, Vlad Belujsky, and the McDonagh’s JJ and Paddy, have an interesting year lined up for the 24-year-old.
“All going well on March 3rd we want to keep Victor busy. Everyone knows about our boxers fighting over in the States and Mexico so we are looking at options there. We work with every promoter in the UK so there’s never a shortage of chances to get him out and we have just announced plans to promote six of our own shows in the UK.”
“We are already looking ahead to more shows in Ireland, so he will have every chance to keep busy. I would love to see him in a Celtic Title fight by the end of the year.”
It seems as if the Last Man Standing contest and the intriguing Irish title fight between Byrne and O’Brien are the only certs to be shown live on TG4.
However, Slater revealed highlights of the undercard will be aired and assures that Rabei and the other down-the-card fighters have the chance to secure TV slots further down the line.
“With TV it will all depend on how the other fights go in terms of stoppages. We will have floats etc, however highlights will be shown of the undercard and the undercard will be streamed live online.
“I’ve heard from Eddie Hearn that the Sky Sports executives are more interested in the NXTGEN shows, as they want to see who their future shows will feature. This undercard is a brilliant way of building fighters.”
“With TV there, all the lads have the chance to impress them and maybe our broadcast partners will turn around and say ‘we need him on the next card at 10:00pm’ – TV is an entertainment business, you need to impress and Victor has all the tools to be a TV fighter, he’s a good-looking kid, he speaks very well, he’s confident, and he is very exciting and above all he is a very talented boxer.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)