Liam Walsh gets Commonwealth title chance
Liam Walsh's growing reputation in British boxing circles has been rewarded with a dream Commonwealth title shot.
Promoter Frank Warren will confirm today that the 24-year-old from Cromer will fight tough Ghanaian Maxwell Awuku at the York Hall, Bethnal Green, in less than three weeks time, with the super-featherweight title at stake.
Walsh has won all nine of his fights, seven by knockout, but now faces the 12-round championship distance for the first time.
Also on the October 23 bill will be twin Ryan and older brother Michael – with hundreds of the Barmy Army fans from north Norfolk expected to head for the capital.
'It will be unbelievable,' said Liam. 'I will give it every last breath I have got. I will come home with that title and I'm going to give the belt to my mum (Michelle) straight away. My mum is brilliant, she does everything for us. She has a trophy cabinet with all our stuff so it will go in there.
'And it's for the fans as well for sure – for every single one of them who support us all the way. I wouldn't be here without the fans.
'In the eighth or nine round when I'm biting on my gumshield and digging in I know every one of them will be pushing me on, I know they will and I will be fighting my heart for them. They'll be an extra man for me.'
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Liam admits the dream carries an element of risk – Awuku has lost just once in 22 outings, with 20 wins, 11 by knockout, and brings with him the impressive reputation of African boxers.
'I'm am going into the unknown,' he said. 'Nobody knows anything about this lad. He's a southpaw, we know his record, but we don't know his height or style. The lad is from Africa and he's tough, all the African lads are - they dig in, they don't get stopped, they fight to the end, but we're tough here as well.
'I am under absolutely no illusions, this is obviously going to be by far the hardest fight of my career. I am training and expecting to do the full 12, but if I get an opportunity to take him out at any stage there's no danger I will - as he will me. You certainly don't get paid overtime in this business.'
Liam's last outing was less than a fortnight ago when he beat Sebastien Cornu on points over six rounds, the longest he has been in the ring as a pro, but that and the short notice, doesn't worry him.
'I am always fit, I'm always in the gym,' he said. 'Fitness isn't an issue in that sense, but it's totally different on the night. When you are doing 12 rounds in that atmosphere with that pressure the nerves will be going. It will be a full house and I'm the main man, so mentally I could lose a lot of energy, physically I will use a lot of energy, so I will have to dig in.
'I know that and I am prepared to do that if I want to be a champion.
'In an ideal world I would have liked a 10-rounder before this, maybe an eight-rounder, a couple of tough journeymen, but we are not in an ideal world. I have been given an opportunity and I am taking it.'
Trainer Graham Everett has never wavered in his conviction that Liam is heading for the top – and says the opportunity was there to be taken.
'Life is all about taking opportunities – this is a massive opportunity for Liam,' he said. 'As soon as it was mentioned to him there was absolutely no shadow of a doubt he wanted the fight.
'Maybe in an ideal world you'd want more experience, but Sam Sexton went to Ireland after being out of the ring for six months and never having boxed more than six rounds and he came back with a Commonwealth title. It's about taking opportunities. I think Liam is an absolutely superb prospect. I think he is very capable of winning this – and he will win this.'
• For ticket details contact Liam Walsh on 07920 114698, Michael Walsh on 07788 734103 or Graham Everett on 07796 206124.