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‘The Kalifornia Pensioner’ ? Debutant Rhys Moran serious about this boxing game

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The flash psychedelic shorts, the bandanna, the strut and even the confident smile all scream young confident showman.

Rhys Moran’s appearance and ring demeanour may give of that youthful arrogant vibe.

However, the 21-year-old is one book you shouldn’t judge by it’s cover.

When you scratch the surface you quickly find out Moran [1-0] is that bit different.

The Waterford super middle takes boxing very seriously, has a real professional attitude and although you don’t see too many bandanna decorated old heads that is exactly what Moran has on his shoulders.

The Tramore native certainly hadn’t a holiday town approach to his debut. Moran worked hard to ensure he avoided the hype and excitement that usually surround debuts.

Rather than threat it as a once off occasion he looked at the four rounds against Andy Bishop [0-10] as an integral part of the much wider process.

“I feel fantastic. I am on top of the world,” he beamed when speaking to Irish-boxing.com after the points win.

“I went in to do a job and I did it. I didn’t want to rush anything and I was never going to go look for the knockout. Pascal [Collins] had a chat with me and told me this guy is a seasoned pro who knows how to survive so we might as well just box and learn. I was told not to get involved with the crowd and just to listen to Pascal. I did that and I am happy.”

The fighter who won 18 Irish titles at various levels and age groups was most content with how he kept his head and focused solely on the job at hand.

The young prospect was conscious of how a defeat, which granted if it happened would have been a shock, could derail his life goals – and it was that rather than entertaining or standing out on Celtic Clash 10 that was forefront on his mind.

“Pascal had me so focused and I am so happy I boxed like that. It’s fights this early were you will have moments when your still kind of amateurish and you don’t be clever. I am happy I stayed focus and clever. In the pros you have to win these fights. If you get caught with a shot in the pros and lose it could be game over. “

Moran also see’s the benefit in banking rounds. Rounds are good for fitness, stamina and learning your trade he suggests. He also points out too many knockouts early on may scare off possible step up opponents when the time comes to move to the next level.

“To go out and rush a professional debut and rushing your work is a risk and it’s not setting yourself up for the future. To be honest boxing is like chess so you have to be clever to make the next move and I want to open doors I don’t want to shut’em.

“If your knocking fella’s out in one round your not getting experience. You can get 10 fights in with no rounds face a durable lad and be in trouble. Also you might find it hard to get a step up fight if your record has 10 knockout outs on it.”

Although there comes a time when you have to make yourself marketable by entertaining within the ring, be that by securing knockouts or being in wars, Moran has a sensible approach to fighting.

The father of two also has a more grown up approach to life outside the ring and lives a life he feels will enhance his world title dreams.

“I eat, sleep and breath boxing. Boxing is my life. The last thing I think about at night and first thing I think about in the morning is boxing. I have two little girls at home and a beautiful girlfriend and they are so supportive of me. They put their life on hold for me. I have to make sure it’s worth it for us all, so I have to take it seriously.

“I am dedicated out and out. I can’t remember the last time I touched a bit of alcohol and for a 21 year old that’s not normal. It’s my job now. I want to be a world champion and if I have to sacrifice now to make that happen so be it.”

It such an approach some might suggest Moran should be called the ‘Kalifornia Pensioner’ rather than the ‘Kalifornia Kid’. However, he can manage to take things serious whilst still having fun.

“In saying that I do love it.

“I love this game and I love to fight. This is my buzz. Doing what I did tonight is my night out or my high and I am blessed. I get a buzz and a real joy from fighting and winning and then when you have people supporting you and coming up to you after you get another kind of buzz. I love it,” he continues with a smile that widens when he discusses how his ring monkier was born.

“I am the youngest in the stable at the moment, I am only 21. How it all started was I was coming the gym in all cycidelic colours, the bandanas, mad colour hair and one of the lads came into the gym one day slagging me saying I think I am from California. As an amateur I was known as the kid so it came. I like to rock it too! I’ll enjoy that side of the game too,” he adds before finishing with a line that all but sums up the Moran paradox.

“I’ll enjoy the flashy gear, but the most important thing is to improve in every fight and that’s what I plan to do.”


Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com