Ryan Walsh is a boxer, but he’s just as much a boxing fan. When you speak to the British Featherweight Champion (and Team Southpaw Jab member) about the sport he can discuss every aspect of it with effervescent enthusiasm. The man’s devotion to Queensbury Rules on every level is nothing short of devout. When we talked following his impressive stoppage win over then unbeaten Cuban, Hairon Socarras, in the MtK Golden Contract competition I wasn’t expecting so much of his time and thoughts.
So much of his time in fact, I’ve broken our chat into a few pieces. It being so fresh after the first round of Golden Contract, we’ll start with MtK’s innovation.
The unique and exciting format, where fighters draw on fight week to decide who gets to choose whom for a punch up in the squared circle the following weekend, saw Ryan chosen by Socarras. Ryan is the reigning British Champion, a belt which would be on the line were he to face a Brit- something he was expecting,
“Leigh Wood said he was gonna pick me because he wanted the British Title, but didn’t and that shocked me. He said the board wouldn’t sanction it, but they’d indicated that they would.”
Like Ryan, Wood also won in round nine of his fight with David Oliver Joyce. Although he didn’t go for a fight with the Cromer man, Ryan understands why,
“I wouldn’t pick me!”
Socarras was not one Walsh was thinking of choosing were he to get the choice. He hides nothing when he says,
“The Cuban would have been one of the last on my list! Only ten minutes of watching him on YouTube and I knew he was good. I implore ya to go and watch him and see if you think the same!
Teddy Atlas said Socarras was great and that was all I needed to know. Atlas knows what he’s on about.
I think he’d have beat everybody else in the tournament.”
Socarras picked Ryan, though, and it wasn’t long into their fight that he must have realised he made a mistake. His conqueror does understands it,
“Humans, it’s pretty much fact, we judge books by covers, it’s just our nature. He saw a little Englishman and thought ‘I’ll take the smaller man’. He made a mistake.
A human’s greatest qualities are invisible.”
Believing he slowly got into his victim’s head, Walsh says, “I felt good all the way through the fight. My plan was just, win round 1, win round 2. I knew I could hurt him and then the low blow was desperation, I knew I was getting to him,
little did he know how much that low blow would inspire me.”
The next round of the competition is in “middle to late Feb”, something Ryan is happy about, as a family man and a non drinker, food is something he looks forward to.
“it’s good for Christmas and because I love my family and my food- my favourite meal of the year. My partner knows how I like it and it’s always perfect. Plus it’s depressing being in the gym training with a Christmas hat on! But we do like to train.”
Excitement around the Golden Contract format has Walsh purring, and excited for where it can take him.
“I was first to sign to Golden Contract- It wouldn’t have mattered who else signed. There could have even been better fighters as they were offered but turned it down. I like that the system’s set in stone, it eradicates all the rubbish and gives us boxing fans get what we want.”
There he is again, describing himself as a boxer and a fan in the same breath, it’s a pleasure talking about the sport with Ryan, and his little bits in Boxing News, where he frequently features on their The Panel section, are always considered and intelligent. However, the fan in him will be put aside to win the tournament, which he believes is,
“The opportunity to fulfil my lifelong ambition, what I’ve dreamed about since I was fourteen, to show I’m the best by beating the best. Once I win I’ll be unavoidable. I’m sure the Americans will make it happen!”
If he keeps performing as well as he did against Hairon Socarras, Walsh could well be making waves in the States. Avoided for so much of his career, it will be very deserved.