There’s a South Dublin derby coming and it’s not Shamrock Rovers v St Pat’s.
Two local pro boxers who live not ten minutes apart will do battle for the BUI Celtic light welterweight title on Saturday, July 14 at Good Counsel GAA Club in Drimnagh.
In one corner, you have Karl Kelly, the Monkstown slugger with dynamite in both hands and a never-say-die attitude. Then, across from him, you have the silkily skilled Victor Rabei. Born in Moldova but brought up in Rathmichael, he is a polar opposite to Kelly in terms of style.
The contrast in fighting approaches between 23-year-old Kelly, who has one win and one loss, and 24-year-old Rabei, who has four wins, has intrigued and divided Irish boxing fans and both fighters are supremely confident they will emerge victorious from the bout on the Celtic Clash 6 card.
“The more I think about it the more I am buzzing,” says the infectiously excitable Kelly who sports a perma-grin. “It’s a fight that is going to get fans talking. It has a bit of everything.
“It’s two local lads that live near each other and I am sure we will both bring a good crowd. It’s a great chance so early in my career and one I really am excited about.
“Winning this title will put me in the right direction of getting an Irish title shot and that would be more than a dream come true for me. I’m very confident that I will win and that Irish title will come.
“Obviously Vic is a very good fighter. You can’t knock him too much technically. I’m training flat out and ain’t cutting any corners at all and been strictly monitored by Jay [Byrne, manager] and Deco [Geraghty Snr, trainer] daily, both, for training and diet.”
It could be mind games, but Kelly also enters the bout with a big claim. The St Margaret’s man reveals that “I boxed him as an amateur. I know it’s only the amateurs and I don’t really want to look into that, but I caught him lovely and I dropped him.
“It was on one of Jay Byrne’s club shows but that is the amateurs there is no point bringing that into it. Vic has progressed massively and he does promote himself well. Look, may the better man win. I won’t stir it up too much, yet!”
Rabei, of course, recalls their encounter differently.
“I don’t know where they got that from,” laughs ‘The Chisinau Cyclone’. “I do remember fighting him on some club show about seven years ago. It was my first fight in a long time and I don’t think I was even in the gym.
“I did hurt my nose I remember that, but I wasn’t down. Anyway, if they are taking anything from that fight going into this one they are making a mistake. Not only was it so long ago I wasn’t even fit that night. It’s completely different now.”
The St Michael’s Inchicore fighter, who is trained here by Manchester’s Steven O’Rourke, comes into the bout with big confidence having recently secured the biggest win of his career. In March, Rabei stopped tough Belfast boxer Mark Morris in the third round at the National Stadium. Now he’s aiming for an all-Ireland double.
Tickets for the fight night are priced at €55 (ringside), €35 (unreserved) and are available from the boxers involved.