Victor Rabei defeats Jake Hanney to retain BUI Celtic title

And Still!

Victor Rabei remains the BUI Celtic light welterweight champion after outpointing Jake Hanney in a bruising title defence tonight at the National Stadium in Dublin.

The ‘Clash of the Titans’ chief support had simmered in the weeks before and while it may not have as been as much of a toe-to-toe war that some had predicted, there was still plenty of spice and flash-points in an entertaining contest.

In the end, though, Rabei was just too sharp and too composed, coming through a relatively even start to firmly take control and control the second half,

Rabei had been impeccable since turning pro in June of 2016. He took testing journeymen early before scoring a stoppage win over Belfast’s Mark Morris on the Ireland’s Last Man Standing bill followed by a gruelling BUI Celtic title win over Karl Kelly.

The ‘home’ fighter tonight, the stage was set for the Ratmichael man to win this Dublin derby and continue on the road to becoming a capital headliner himself – and he duly did so with a mature performance.

While Rabei’s six-fight career had progressed smoothly and quickly, Hanney turned pro a full six years ago. Initially based in Australia, the Hardwicke Street man developed an early buzz but, with fights infrequent, the self confessed ‘party boy’ returned home. Commitment wavering, he took on Tyrone McKenna with little training and, after a decent start, was eventually stopped.

That McKenna fight was two years ago and for the belt on the line tonight. Hanney would fall away but saw his fire re-lit by Eddie Hyland at SBG Tallaght. Training properly for the first time in years, ‘The Wizard’ came to the ring with confidence but was unable to land the big bombs which he would have hoped to.

It was close and cagey in the opener, Hanney looking to use the big right hand and rough up Rabei who was popping off short counters well.

Hanney made the first real dent early in the second, a short left hook preluding a mini-barrage in the corner. The Rabei jab was becoming like a nice weapon as he attempted to establish a rhythm. A big left hook off the ropes, partially rode by Rabei, though, looked to have won Hanney the stanza.

In case the tension needed any more ramping up, a naughty volley of shots from Rabei after a break signalled the beginning of the war and it was the champion who would time the better shots as Hanney opened up.

Rabei continued to be the tidier boxer into the fourth and Hanney, at times, seemingly threatened to unravel with a number of rabbit punches and some use of the head but he remained dangerous and landed some heavy shots

‘The Chisinau Cyclone’ improved as the fight entered its second half, the fifth round being his strongest yet, boxing smoothly and landing increasing numbers of clean shots.

Rabei remained on top in the sixth, a round in which Hanney had his moments with the uppercut but was still being outlanded.

Clocked clean by Rabei, Hanney opened up again in the seventh, with this playing into the sharp beltholder’s hands. Rabei would then hurt Hanney in the corner with a straight right and the atmosphere clicked up another notch as the challenger looked on somewhat unsteady legs.

Perhaps needing a stoppage, Hanney began the final round well but the impressive Rabei retook control, pushing his rival back and hurting him once again.

Going to the final cards following an enthralling contest, Rabei was confirmed the winner with cards of 79-73, 77-75, 78-74.

Rabei improves to 6(2)-0 following the win and will look to now move onto the Irish or the BBBoC Celtic title.

Hanney drops to 5(4)-2(1) but a place remains on the scene for him.

dpg

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie