Liam Walsh re-surfaces to defend his domestic super-featherweight title at The Copper Box on Saturday but there is a consensus within the industry that he is blessed with a talent worthy of several leagues higher, writes Glynn Evans.
Since entering the profession back in February 2008, lionheart Liam has triumphed in all 19 fights (13 early), netted domestic, Commonwealth and Inter-Continental hardware and scalped several quality men such as Paul Appleby, Scott Harrison, Joe Murray (twice) and Gary Sykes.
However, thus far injury and ill-fortune have conspired to hinder his ascent to the major international belts and the man who turns 30 next month is struggling to contain his frustration.
‘I’ll accept any meaningful fight for a decent belt between 130-140 lbs,’ says the man they call ‘Destiny’ who is world rated in both the super-feather (WBA and IBF) and lightweight (WBO) classes.
‘I’m at a stage where I’m desperate for a big fight where I enter as the underdog. That’s when you’re going to see the best of me.
‘I’d love to be able to call myself European champion. (Most recent super-feather champ, Spaniard Juli) Giner recently got battered in a WBC eliminator and I understand has since been stripped. That was a fight I really wanted. Expect there to be a lot of rival stables scrambling after the vacant title!’
Involvement in a December 2012 car crash forced the Norfolk man to forsake a scheduled crack at WBO super-feather king Ricky Burns. And his misery was further compounded last summer when a hand injury curtailed a final eliminator (against Russia’s Andriy Klimov) for Terry Flanagan’s WBO lightweight crown.
And whilst re-cuperating on the couch, stablemate George Jupp was slipped into an (ultimately abortive) challenge for the WBO’s ‘interim’ 130lb strap with Mexico’s Miguel Berchelt over in Yucatan.
‘To be fair, at the time the fight was offered to George, they knew I’d not be ready to fight until mid April following my hand injury,’ says Walsh who has already contested eight 12 round championship fights plus two 10 rounders.
‘And I doubt I’d have agreed to meet a fighter of that calibre at altitude on barely a week’s notice anyway . Mind, I’d 100% have taken it had it been offered to me for this Copper Box show.
‘Berchelt looks very decent, 26 stoppage wins in 30 fights. He’s a guy I’d love to fight. People would expect me to get slaughtered and that’d be right up my street. Cos I’m a bit of an idiot, I genuinely think I can beat everyone!’
And he remains steadfast in his belief that Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren can secure him his long overdue date on the world stage before 2016 is through.
‘There’s some terrific fighters at 130-135lbs right now, and I’m prepared to step into the ring with any of them,’ insists Liam.
‘At lightweight, I’d place (WBC champ Jorge) Linares at the top, closely followed by our own Terry Flanagan who’s not the greatest to watch but a very effective southpaw and extremely hard to beat.
‘Me and (Manchester’s Anthony) Crolla is a great fight but I’d happily fight any of the champions. (IBF king Rances) Barthelemy the Cuban southpaw would be a nightmare – stylewise, he’s last on the list – while Flanagan’s the most realistic to make. But why would he take the risk unless I’m mandatory?
‘I believe ‘Loma’ (double Olympic champion Vasyl Lomachenko) and Nicholas Walters (Jamaica’s WBA feather king) are both moving up to super-feather where probably the best champion is the Jap (WBA boss Takashi Uchiyama) who’s very fast and explosive but seldom leaves home.
‘Then there’s Bob Arum’s Mexican, Francisco Vargas, who recently won the WBC title in a potential Fight of the Year with another Jap (Takashi Miura).
‘I’ve been studying (WBO king) Rocky Martinez for years. He probably best suits me but I’d still have to have the best night I’ve ever had to beat him. However, Burns outboxed him and Mikey Garcia stopped him with body shots…..my department!’
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