California dream. Ireland’s Callum Walsh on staying focused in La La Land

Head off the pillow, Callum Walsh drinks in the California sun and reflects on his journey from Cork, Ireland to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in glamorous Los Angeles.

“It’s a crazy feeling,” he says Boxing news. “It’s like, I’m here. Right now! In Los Angeles! I wake up and I’m just going to go to the gym. It’s a crazy feeling. But I can’t let it all get to my head. The plan is working, I just have to keep doing what I’ve always done and just work hard until I’m world champion.”

The super middleweight is currently preparing for his sixth pro fight against Leonardo Di Stefano Ruiz in Boston over St Patrick’s Day weekend. Walsh may have only been 20 when he made his professional debut in 2021, but his early start in boxing meant he had already amassed a wealth of experience in the amateur code.

“I didn’t choose boxing. That was when I was young, maybe six years old. Actually it was my dad, he just put me in a boxing club. And from then on I just stuck with it. I just liked it,” he recalls.

“I think it was definitely a big benefit that I started boxing at such a young age. At the age of 15-16, I already had a huge experience. It was a good amateur career. I won six national titles, a European gold medal.”

Despite her young age, Walls has set her sights on competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A loss to Belfast’s Aiden Walsh put paid to that goal, but from the ashes of that dream came an opportunity in Hollywood the young Irishman just couldn’t turn down.

“I wanted to try and fight him (Aiden Walsh) again. I wanted to see if I could get a box somewhere. But then obviously with the COVID and everything, that’s why I came here to Los Angeles to train. I wanted to just train with Freddie (Roach) and train here for a couple of weeks and then go home and try to get a box. But then Freddie and I got on well and things were going well here, so that’s when I decided to stay.”

The spark between fighter and trainer has continued to develop and Walsh has shown the fruits of this education with a perfect 5-0 record including 4 stoppages. The young prospect is clear about what he wants to bring to the sport as an entertainer and feels that the fusion of amateur education with Roach’s seek-and-destroy ethos will take him to the highest level.

“I have a picture of me and Freddie when I was, like, 15. So I just always wanted to train at Wild Card. Working with a legend like Freddie Roach, the amount of knowledge one has is crazy. And I learn new things from him every day. It is unbelievable. I’ve always wanted to be an interesting fighter for the fans and definitely try to give them what they want. Fans want to see exciting fights, they want to see knockouts, they want to see blood and war. Just entertainment at the end of the day. Freddie’s style is definitely something that will benefit me throughout my career and the fact that I come from a good amateur boxing background to be able to mix with Freddie’s aggressive style and have both styles.

Callum Walsh

Behind the scenes, Walsh received illustrious support. Tom Loeffler, a promoter who has worked with the likes of the Klitschko brothers and Gennady Golovkin, was quick to identify the young prospect, seeing his potential. In addition, UFC boss Dana White has added Walsh to his UFC Fight Pass subscription service. Excited to witness the enthusiasm of Irish-American fans in MMA, Walsh has taken over in hopes of maximizing the commercial potential that comes with a fighter hailing from the Emerald Isle.

“I haven’t heard Freddie talk about a young fighter the way he talked about Callum as far as his potential,” Loeffler said.

“He’s the perfect fit for Freddie. that Manny Pacquiao, great puncher, southpaw style. And as Calum mentioned, coming from an amateur style Wild Card, perfecting his professional style really seems perfect. We flew to Las Vegas to meet Dana White in January (2022). And all of a sudden, when we sat down with Dana, I saw that he was immediately thinking about the success he had with Conor McGregor and the Irish fans. He was watching Callum Walsh on the boxing side with the Irish fans. And so things have developed with Danan and he’s 100 per cent supportive of him and supportive of Callum’s career.”

Having fought four times last year, Walsh is hoping for an equally active 2023, continuing his professional development while building his profile as the kind of exciting knockout artist his countrymen will be eager to see. The opportunity to do so in Boston on St. Patrick’s Day weekend is something he clearly relishes.

“I definitely want to put on a show and I definitely want to get the knockouts. I never want a fight to go 8 rounds. I never want to go that long. We never want to be in a boring fight. I want to give the fans what they want. They pay to come see me, so we have to give them what they want,” he declares.

“I don’t care who I fight. I trust them, Tom (Loeffler), I trust Danan’s plan and I know they have the right plans for me. So I just let them tell me when I’m going to fight and who it is and I’m just like, OK. There is never any problem. Opponents, I never pick and choose. I’ll just say, “yeah, that’s good.” I know I’m ready for the top level. I know, I can feel in myself that I am ready. So, I will accept any fight.”

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