This Saturday, it will almost be 2 years to the day since the hard-hitting, talented Dubliner Jake Hanney 5-1 (4 KO’s) last stepped into the ring. Despite the layoff, 'The Wizard’ isn’t returning against a journeyman, instead he possibly faces his toughest test in the form of Victor Rabei 6-0 (2 KO’s) for Rabei's Celtic light-welterweight title, in the co-main event as part of ‘Clash of the Titans’.
Hanney has linked up with trainer and Irish boxing legend Eddie Hyland, and he says he has left no stone unturned as he makes his return to the sport:
“First off, it feels really good to be back. And to be back doing it properly, not rushing it, and being in the right shape both physically and mentally.
“I've been in official camp 7-8 weeks now, but I was out training with Eddie before Christmas giving it a go and it all just clicked. I love it in the gym there, we’ve some great fighters there with Graham McCormack, Siobhan O’Leary and Carl McDonald, so it’s a great laugh with them but there all winners and you feed off that intensity and work-rate.”
Jake says that despite the layoff following his loss to Tyrone McKenna in 2015 for this very same title, he always felt like he had unfinished business with the sport:
“To be honest, I never really believed in a boxer being rejuvenated until it happened to myself. And that’s what it is, Im rejuvenated and loving the sport again, and that’s thanks to Eddie and everyone in the gym.
“After the Tyrone McKenna fight, I knew I had unfinished business with the sport. I knew I didn’t do the right things in camp and didn’t listen properly. So before Christmas I was talking to Stephen and Leonard (Boxing Ireland promotions) and they brought me out and hooked me up with Eddie.
“So from there on it just snowballed and took off. I wasn’t expecting a title fight straight away, I mean it was in the plans as a target for this year, but it’s unbelievable that it’s here on my first show back. So you have to grab the chance when you can, and It’s against the perfect opponent for me I think“
Looking ahead to the fight, and with the layoff from the sport and Rabei’s ascension over the past 2 years, Hanney feels that the pressure is all on Rabei to perform:
“Exactly, the pressure’s all on him, he’s the “TV Boy”, he’s the one giving it the mouth and big talk on social media. I'm after been out for 2 years, so iv no right to come back after that long and spank him but that’s exactly what I'm going to do, believe me on that.”
Down the line, Jake feels that big fights are on the horizon once again, once he takes care of business this Saturday:
“What I'm looking to do now, is after I beat Victor on the 30th, aim for the Irish title straight away, maybe re-match Victor, depending on how good the fight is. And then by the end of the year to hopefully get a decent European ranking against a big-name European opponent.
“Obviously closer to home, everyone seems to be fighting everyone and there’s some great names in the division like Darragh Foley, Phil Sutcliffe Jnr, Tyrone McKenna, so id love to fight any of those lads and im open for any challenge now.”
As Jake said, he feels like a fighter rejuvenated and if we know one thing from the sport, it’s that a happy and rejuvenated fighter is a dangerous one.
If both fighters live up to the pre-fight hype then the fans are in for a treat this Saturday in a match-up that has all the ingredients to be fight of the night.