One of Irish boxing’s hottest new prospects – Waterford’s Rhys Moran – is set to make his professional debut on February 1.
The talented super middleweight will punch for pay for the first time at the start of next month on the big ‘Celtic Clash 10’ bill at the Devenish Complex in West Belfast. For Rhys, the bout has been a long time coming. The 21-year-old has been training in Dublin at Paschal Collins’s famous Celtic Warriors Gym since last summer and is eager to make a splash.
Rhys makes the move following a decorated amateur career.
The Tramore man is inpatient to getting his pro-career started. He said: “I just thought my time was up in the amateurs. I felt, myself, in my own personal achievements, that I’ve done what I wanted to do in the amateurs. I’ve boxed six times for Ireland, I won a silver at the Odivelas Box Cup, I won the Celtic Box Cup three times, I’ve an Irish Colleges Youth title. I won the Under-18 Championships back in 2016 and competed in the Europeans. All through my amateur career I’ve been boxing the best lads, Michael Nevin, Kieran Molloy, Tommy Hyde, I’ve victories over some and losses to others.”
Stung by dodgy judges’ decisions a number of times, the St Paul’s graduate had always had his eyes on the pro game. He recalls: “I wanted to go [pro] at 15, 16! But I was always told I was too young, that I’d have to go abroad to do it, that I hadn’t gotten any international experience with Ireland yet. So, I got two Irish titles, I boxed six times for the country, I boxed at senior level, I won the Munster Elite title where I stopped a man eight years older than me in 40 seconds. I’ve got that experience now.”
Rhys added: “It’s hard to train all year, fights are infrequent, and that happens. As an amateur, you train just as hard as a pro, twice a day, and at the end of it you don’t get paid and you don’t get the decision. You’re at the drawing board and you’re thinking ‘what’s next?’ Do I want to come up here again and box knowing that it’s a 50-50 chance I get the decision even though I know I beat him?”
Moran doesn’t plan on leaving too much up to decision once he arrives to the pro ring and cuts an imposing figure. The youngster looks set to be a danger in the super middleweight decision where he will stand taller than most. He said: “I was fighting light heavyweight [81kg] as an amateur but it’s my plan to move to super middleweight [76kg]. I’m a tall southpaw, I stand at 6’4″, and I’m physically and naturally strong. I think the pro style will suit me, I never really liked the amateur scene, the tip-tap and move style. I like to get involved, do a bit of damage.”
Looking to break opponents down, there is no better place for Moran than the Celtic Warriors with coach Collins who was brought up on the tough Boston scene and sparring partners such as the world-level Spike O’Sullivan. The Déise man said: “Paschal is a tremendous coach, he’s showing me things I’d never even thought of before, movements, angles, little tricks. I feel the longer it goes through the rounds, the better I get. I start slow a little bit. My third round is always a lot better, even in sparring sessions.
“I’ve seen that if you still look amateur-y when you come to the pros, you don’t hold sway. If you look professional, act professional, you can grab that bigger audience and that’s what I’m doing, working on that pro style, sitting down on the punches, adapting. I’m really looking forward to it. I see titles, I’ve always had this dream, ever since I was a little fella, to turn professional.”
Celtic Clash 10′ will be headlined by Irish featherweight champion Eric Donovan and, alongside Moran, also features a clash between light welters Stephen Webb and Francy Luzoho as well as appearances from Antrim Town cruiserweight Conor Cooke, Larne super feather Kelvin McDonald, West Belfast super middle Conor Doherty, Bray super bantam Sam Carroll, Dublin welter John Joyce, Cavan light middle Dominic Donegan, Sligo welter Aaron Gethins, Kildare light welter Katelynn Phelan, North Belfast light middle Owen O’Neill, and Crumlin duo Tony McGlynn and Senan Kelly.
Tickets cost €40 (unreserved) or €55 (ringside) and can be bought from all the boxers on the bill or by ringing 07923 239114 or at Universe.com. Rhys Moran can be contacted for tickets via his social media.