‘I fight off total emotion and total anger’ - what makes Michael Walsh tick
PUBLISHED: 19:14 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 19:40 29 February 2020
Michael Walsh tends not to do things by halves.
His career has been unconventional, matching his performances in the ring: eye-catching and stunning, but done the Michael Walsh way.
For all of three minutes on Friday it looked like he was prepared to do something he has never done before and go the full distance with an opponent, in this case, Armani Buriki, who had travelled from Tanzania in an effort to do what 12 other men had failed.
Buriki was taller, and with a significant reach advantage. Walsh taunted him for the opening round but when he felt a jab that drew blood from his nose, perhaps thought better of it.
Consequently, he went into usual fight mode and 41 seconds later, threw a right hand that will give Buriki nightmares for some time to come. The visitor went down slowly, but surely. Walsh watched, knowing he wasn't going to get up in a hurry. Buriki didn't beat referee Lee Cook's count and Walsh's arm was raised in triumph for the 13th time.
As he left the ring at The Halls in Norwich he looked up and saw his wife holding their young son, Liam - one of the reasons Michael climbed back into the ring just before Christmas after a four-year absence. They waved and beamed at each other in a moment that summed up pretty much what the Walsh dynasty is all about. Three boxing brothers, some boxing sons coming through, and as tight a family as you will ever find.
It's not been easy for Michael for a while, but boxing has always given him something to ease the pressures of life, especially his youngest son's. The shared joy was a moment he will hold dear.
"He is making it happen," he said. "I wouldn't have got back my love for boxing if it wasn't for him. I go in with bad thoughts now, but I put myself under a lot of pressure, I fight off total emotion and total anger."
At 35, Michael hasn't just exorcised a few demons, he has proven what a good British boxer he is. Whether he can keep confirming it will depends on whether he can get a quick route to a British featherweight title fight: he won't be around forever, he knows that, so he has to wait for the British Boxing Board of Control to decide where he stands in their pecking order.
He ticks all the boxes, but is relaxed enough to accept the reality that he might just be out of luck.
One thing is clear though; Walsh won't walk away without a fight.
"I have been very stressed these last two camps, but I have enjoyed it and come away with two wins and 100pc I am going nowhere," he said. "I'm not going anywhere until someone thinks they can give me a good hiding for a few quid. I don't want to be credited for beating people who haven't got titles. I do need to step it up, that is the top and the bottom of it and that is what I am looking to do.
"This chap was meant to be there to go the distance with me and I think he would have done if I hadn't tagged him. He punched quite hard, stunned twice in the first round. I was punched on the nose and he hit me on the jaw and he stunned me, which was good. The last time I was stunned I went down, this time I learned. Yes, he had a bit of pop in his hands, but that made me decide that it was either me or him.
"He was talking on the way down, I don't know what he was saying , but I said to the ref 'is he ok?'.
In Walsh's corner were brothers Liam and Ryan, whose success in the ring prove an inspiration for their older brother.
"I need a title fight - somebody sort it," he said. "I have been in boxing 15 years, my brothers have had British title shots and a world title shot, give me a shot. I will fight any man on this planet up to nine stone. Put a title on it and put me on TV so I can show my brothers i can fight as hard as them because I am proud of how hard they can fight, but I haven't been able to show it to them.
"I want to tick a few boxes for myself, my little boy is fighting for his life daily and it makes me want to fight. I feel like we are doing it together."
Walsh is at a level that other members of trainer Graham Everett's stable on show on Friday aspire to. It is a learning process, still, for some. Ringside was Iain Martell, who has a Southern Area cruiserweight title shot coming up - his lessons are more advanced than some.
For others - Liam Goddard, Owen Blunden, Joe Steed, Bernardo Marime and Stevi Levy, it is about learning the trade against hard-nosed men and women who don't give out gifts.
"These shows are absolutely perfect for their career," said Everett. "Some will come put and not be happy with their performances, but they will know they can learn from it and improve. Others will be happier, but there are always things to learn to help their careers. You have to remember they are all at different stages of their careers but are all progressing and learning.
"Iain Martell is another example of the need for local boxing to build careers and give opportunities."