Norfolk boxer Michael Walsh aiming to come back with a bang
Michael Walsh returns to the boxing ring for the first time in a little over two years tonight – determined to swap the sun on his back for a belt around his waist.
Walsh, who turned 30 this week, has spent months training in Spain, alongside younger brothers Ryan and Liam. Whilst the twins' presence was no secret as they pursued their British title ambitions, Michael kept his personal intentions under wraps.
Privately, there was only one thing on his mind: to reach the top of the domestic tree, and at the same time pay tribute to his late father, John, whose death in 2011 hit him hard.
And whilst he was helping his brothers prepare for their respective fights, in the gym and outside on the running track – 'that was the only time I felt the sun on my back' he laughs – he was preparing himself for tonight.
'It's been a long camp, I started training August, September time so it has all come together nicely,' he said. 'Now I just want to get it done.
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'Everything is spot on. I had a little pull on my right shoulder, my left shoulder has played me up a bit, but nothing would have stopped me this time. It's been too long.
'I only want a British title, it is all I have ever wanted. If I fail, I fail, but I am feeling stronger than I have ever been. I just need to shake off ring rust – you can train as hard as you want and get as fit as you want, but it's the ring rust that I need to sort out.'
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Walsh steps out at the home of British boxing, York Hall, for a featherweight clash against experienced Hungarian Ignac Kassai.
The Cromer man has quite a record to uphold – he has racked up a stunning 10 knockouts from 10 fights – but while he insists tonight's scheduled eight-rounder is all about shaking off the ring rust, there's no doubt he wants to keep the sequence going.
'One hundred per cent – the only difference is this time I might have a look at my opponent first,' he said with a laugh. 'It can be a bad omen this first round.'
That's because Walsh has been on the canvas twice in the opening round of fights, against Najah Ali, which he won in the third, and George Gachechiladze which, amazingly, Walsh got up to win before the opening round had finished.
'The truth is I'd like it not to go much past three minutes,' he added. 'As we say, we don't get overtime.'
The intention, once tonight's hurdle is, hopefully, cleared, will be to have a British belt wrapped around his waist – a tribute to his late father.
He said: 'I never retired, it took me a while to get my head around a few things, but I have done that now and I am ready to come back and hopefully get to where I should have been.
'I have never retired – I had a lot on my mind, my dad and things.
'When my dad went it was hard to think about boxing. but I have put things behind me and I think he would be happy if he saw me going into a boxing ring.
'I want to get that first British title in honour of him and hopefully I can succeed. If I don't, then I have turned my life around. Boxing has saved me from going down a lot of paths I didn't want to go down - if nothing else boxing has saved me once more.'
Ryan Walsh has a date confirmed for his British featherweight title fight against Samir Mouneimne – they will come face to face on June 27, the venue yet to be confirmed.