Talks to make what Assassin Promotions believe is a ‘genuine TV fight’ between Victor Rabei and Niall O’Connor have begun but conflict regarding weight may mean we could have wait before the domestic clash is agreed.
BUI Celtic light welter champion Rabei [6(2)-0], whose last performance was a knockout victory live on TG4, and the somewhat under-the-radar O’Connor have shared verbal back-and-forths via Irish-Boxing.com and social media over the last few months and a real rivalry has begun to develop.
Indeed, Ballybrack super feather O’Connor [5(4)-0] took to social media to say that a lightweight fight had been made early in the New Year – although Assassin argue they received no made offer at that point, suggesting the Celtic Warriors puncher was trying force the issue.
Assassin say they are keen on the fight, as are both fighters, and fight boss Conor Slater admitted this week that recent dialogue has been had.
However, there seems to be issue with regard to what weight the fight should be at. O’Connor’s team are pushing for the match to be made at 135lbs, while Assassin and Rabei’s team want it at 140lbs.
Slater argues that, for the fight to make sense, the BUI Celtic light welter title currently in the Moldovan-Dub’s possession should be on the line and points out that Rabei has Irish title ambitions at light welter – despite claims he will campaign long-term at lightweight – and thus would be crazy to build start again from a lower weight.
“I think the pair kind of just verbally agreed to fight each other. No terms were discussed. We’ve only opened dialogue with Tony [Davitt] this week,” Slater told Irish-Boxing.com before discussing the weight hurdle that will have to be jumped.
“We want the fight at 140lbs, as Victor holds the Celtic belt there. Victor understands that Niall wants it at 135lbs but, at the end of the day, Victor would have to defend his belt for the fight to make sense.”
“If 140lbs is impossible, then the fight won’t happen. Victor already has the Celtic belt and can look to keep busy before targeting the Irish title.”
“The whole team, myself, Kaz [Evans] and [coach] Steve O’Rourke don’t feel it’s right that he has to move to a new weight when he’s the champion and he’s the one being called out. The fight only make sense if the belt is on the line.”
Some may suggest that creating a weight stipulation indicates Assassin don’t want the fight, but Slater argues otherwise.
If TG4, as hoped, come on board then the promotional company are under pressure to make decent TV-worthy scraps and with Rabei, who has defeated Irish opposition in Mark Morris and Karl Kelly as well as being linked to Martin Quinn, as one of the fighters they have earmarked for stardom they need genuine challenges for him.
With that in mind Slater claims that O’Connor is a fight they would ‘love’ to make.
“That’s a fight I’d love to make and it’s a genuine TV fight. It’s a 50/50 fight and an evenly matched fight of high quality. Victor is a big name in the domestic scene and is a belt holder.”
“He craves domestic rivalry and has a thing for beating domestic names, having beat Karl Kelly, and Mark Morris. I definitely think it’s a TV fight. It’s a Dublin fight too.”
While it’s one that could be built, the Assassin’s man believes if it doesn’t happen early this year it may not happen.
“I think it has to happen next, or it won’t happen,” he adds.
While Slater was being somewhat diplomatic, Rabei is not fond of the weight discussion.
When questioned on social media on why he wants the fight at light welterweight rather than lightweight as he had apparently agreed, Rabei hit out at a fan of ‘Nasty Niall’.
The Rathmicheal fighter explained how “I said I’d fight Niall at 135lbs and I mean it.”
“Niall made it out that he has fought at 130lbs [super feather] and he’s coming up to meet me at 135, which is not right. He never fought at 130lbs, he fought at 140, 137, 137, 135, 132.”
“Niall and I both agreed to fight, his team have made no offers, I didn’t call him out, he called me out. They’re meant to be giving me offers.”
“I’m the champion at 140lbs and the a-side fighter. I’m not going to vacate my title, drop down to Niall’s weight and meet all of his needs. He’s chasing me, not the other way around.”
“But, because he’s a fight I want, Assassin have made offers to his team to fight me at 140lbs, very good offers at that.”
“This isn’t an amateur show lads.”