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Victor Rabei wants O’Connor fight – Nasty Niall claims agreement has been reached

The name Victor Rabei has passed a number of lips over the last 12 months but the mouth that the Irish Prospect of the Year wants to punch most in 2019 is Niall O’Connor – and the feeling is mutual.

Rathmichael light welterweight Rabei [6(2)-0] considerably raised his stock and profile in 2018 with an impressive stoppage victory over Mark Morris, a BUI Celtic 140lbs title victory over Karl Kelly, and a first round knockout live on TG4.

Such was the St Michael’s Gym performer’s innings over the last 12 month that he was voted Prospect of the Year by Irish-Boxing.com readers and he became a fighter a host of fellow rising stars expressed an interest in fighting.

A Kelly rematch was mentioned, Martin Quinn is keen, Gary Cully too and Stephen Webb, who fights the returning Joe Fitzpatrick on February 9th, issued a strong call out.

However, Rabei, who Assassin Promotions see as a potential Dublin TV star, wants to trade leather with Ballybrack super featherweight O’Connor [5(4)-0].

The Moldova-born Dubliner is set to move down to lighteight and claims he would welcome any domestic challenge.

Rabei has a keep-busy and Irish title – which Kelly and Feargal McCrory contest next month – goal for 2019 but did mention O’Connor as the one derby dance partner he would especially like.

“I want to be very active and involved in big fights in 2019 and the Irish title would be brilliant,” Rabei told Irish-Boxing.com.

“I’d love to fight Niall O’Connor, he has been calling me out for a while and it’s a fight I want at 135,” he added before indicating he feels he is the name in an increasingly exciting division.

“I’m the title holder and everyone is calling me out. I’ve been involved in big fights last year and proved myself to be one of the best prospects in Ireland.”

Last night, after this interview was conducted, O’Connor stated on social media that a clash between the pair had been agreed for a card at the National Stadium in Dublin in March.

Irish-Boxing.com understands that no official agreement has been reached and no official talks have taken place but to have two willing fighters that actively want the fight is encouraging.

With McCrory-Kelly pending – and with O’Connor having yet to box in an eight rounder – the Irish title is not an option but the BUI Celtic belt is conceivable.

Having already won the eight-round belt up at the weight people are now calling super lightweight, Rabei could instead look for the Irish title here – maybe versus Donegal’s Shaun McShane.

However, the Steve O’Rourke trained talent claims he isn’t in a rush and trusts his team to get him a tilt when the time is right.

“I still have a lot to learn, so not rushing into anything at the moment. My management team will sort it out for me this year. I would fight the winner. I’ll fight anyone once it makes sense.”

With Kelly promising fights to both Cully and Quinn, the lightweight class looks set to be prolific in terms of all-Irish showdowns in 2019

The Irish title will be in play after McCrory and Kelly go to battle at the Ulster Hall while, on the same Belfast card, the returning Joe Fitzpatrick fights recent debutant Webb over six rounds.

Rabei has backed Commonwealth Games silver medallist Fitzpatrick to emerge victorious from the surprise addition to the card and doesn’t see the value in him fighting Webb – despite the Belfast fighter’s call-outs.

“Fitzpatrick has a lot more experience than Webb does. I think the fight is too early for Webb. But you never know, he seems to be very confident and that can be dangerous going into the fight,” he said before discussing the call outs.

“I think he’s a smart lad and he’s getting himself the publicity he needs to stand out from the rest. Right now, it makes no sense for me, once he gets a few wins under he’s belt, why not, we’re all in this sport to fight.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)


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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