Ryan Walsh gets off to flying start in chase for pot of gold
- Credit: Archant
Ryan Walsh proved in emphatic style why he is favourite to land the Golden Contract featherweight crown.
The Cromer fighter produced a stunning performance to see off the tricky Cuban, Hairon Socarras in the opening night of quarter-finals at York Hall.
"I've sparred my brother Liam throughout because he's the best," he said.
"It's the best I could have asked for because he's better than everyone in this competition. I have to thank him and all my team. I can't thank MTK Global enough.
"Actions speak louder than words. I never said too much about this. I knew he was a good fighter and so are all the others - but you're going to have to be very, very good to beat me. I'll fight anybody not just in this tournament but anywhere."
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It had been nip and tick for four rounds before Walsh exploded into life in the fifth. Stung by a low blow, Walsh produced a stunning left which rocked the Cuban on his heels, sending him crashing to the ropes, which saved him hitting the canvas.
Socarras recovered to finish the round, but Walsh went in search of the finish. The writing was on the wall and Walsh saw his moment in the ninth - and took it. A big right forced Socarras on to the ropes again and Walsh jumped all over his opponent with a barfrage of punches, all of which went unanswered, forcing referee Bob Williams to step in and call a halt to proceedings.
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There were emotional scenes as he was joined in the ring by twin brother Liam and their older brother Michael.
"First and foremost the Farmy Army, second MTK, without them none of this would be possible, but more importantly - and everyone will understand this - this isn't team, this is family and these two, I would be nothing without them," said Walsh, who earned a £5,000 bonus for the stoppage win.
"I can't explain it enough, I don't want to get emotional, no one is catching me crying now. I will cry back there maybe, but these two, I owe them everything.
"This is not a one-man team, this is blood."
Other winners in the innovative MTK Global-inspired event were Leigh Wood, Jazza Dickens and Tyrone McCullagh, who all go through to the semi-finals, which are scheduled for February/May and the final planned for May/June, the winner guaranteed a big-money five-fight contract.