Walsh sets sights high as he bids to make it six of the best in British ranks

Ryan Walsh, right, defends his British featherweight title against Lewis Paulin Picture: Philip Shar

Ryan Walsh, right, defends his British featherweight title against Lewis Paulin Picture: Philip Sharkey/TGS Photo - Credit: Philip Sharkey/TGS Photo

Ryan Walsh steps back in the ring to defend his British featherweight crown for the sixth time on Friday night - and with his eyes on a double target.

First and foremost is disposing of the unbeaten Scottish challenger, Lewis Paulin, at York Hall. Then it's a step up to European and world title shots.

Paulin - winner of all 12 of his fights - won't be under-estimated, but thoughts of the European crown mean unfinished business for the Cromer man. Walsh was denied what he insists is rightfully his when beaten by Dennis Ceylan in Denmark in October, 2016. It rankles - a 'home decision' awarded to a man who six months later was banned for use of cocaine.

Walsh is a proud holder of the British belt and insists he will never give it up - but knows there are other, bigger fish to fry.

"I'm one of the longest reigning British champions and I don't think this will be done again in my lifetime," said Walsh, 33.

"It's a unique position and I'm proud to have this title. I will never vacate it, and I'd have to be beaten for me to ever lose it.

"This will be my sixth time defending my title, and hopefully a win here pushes me in the right direction towards a bigger fight. I'd love the European title as I feel it's a shot I rightfully deserve, or it could even be a final eliminator for a world title or a world title itself next.

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"I'm willing to fight anyone at a drop of a hat. I've got Lewis Paulin in front of me and my eyes are firmly on him, but who knows what a victory can lead to. There are three featherweight world champions based in America, so it's great my fight is broadcast over there.

"It means I can sell myself to the American audience so it's a great incentive. Job one is defeat Lewis Paulin, and job two is show the American fans that there is a willing fighter who wants to challenge their champions."

"I've proven in my career that I'm at my best when I'm active, and I'm more than confident that with MTK Global I can stay active and fight at my peak, which I think I'm coming up to in the next few years. The last time I boxed at York Hall was also on a Friday night against a Scottish fighter, so the stars are aligning and I like good omens. I've become very attached to this British title and I don't intend on going it up."