Ryan Walsh is on a mission.
The 33-year-old British Featherweight champion, ranked number two with the World Boxing Organisation, is out to win the MTK Golden Contract Featherweight tournament and land himself a world title shot soon after.
Walsh, who has held the Lonsdale belt since September 2015, faces Tyrone McCullagh in one of tonight’s semi-finals at York Hall live on Sky Sports. Never one to shirk a challenge Walsh has fought those put in front of him at domestic level and having defeated his challengers he is now in a good position to make 2020 the best year of his boxing career.
“Everything happens when it’s meant to happen and for a reason. I feel like for the first time I’ve got the hand on my pen to write my own history and with the right people everything’s falling into place,” he told Boxing Scene.
“I’m working hard for it,” he added.
“Things will work out the way they’re meant to work out and I’m very confident that everything happens for a reason. It took quite a long time to get where I wanted to get to. But it’s my mission this year to accomplish it all. I said recently I don’t dream of this, you dream when you’re asleep. I’m on a mission.”
In the way of Walsh’s mission is McCullagh and either Jazza Dickens or Leigh Wood should the Cromer Featherweight make it through to the final. And having defeated the useful Hairon Socarras in his quarter-final Walsh agrees with the other three semi-finalists, who have told ‘Scene and other members of the boxing media, that at this stage of the competition whoever they face it will be a big fight and one of their hardest to date.
“I couldn’t agree more. Three totally different styles. One very experienced fighter (Dickens), two a bit more unknown but still good quality. It’s a good field and I’ve always stressed this from the start. From when I signed I knew who was in it and I’m just happy to be active. The winner of this should be in a good position to move up and the minimum the winner should be looking at, given all the rankings the others have with governing bodies, is fighting for a world title. No-one is paying you a six-figure deal at the end of it for anything else are they. That’s the reality of it.”
MTK’s new tournament has benefitted all fighters and none more so than Ryan Walsh. A fighter that thrives on activity and if all goes well against McCullagh tonight may find himself back out on March 28 defending his British title against Reece Mould.
Inactivity is something that has bothered Walsh in his career. Twenty-nine fights in a 12-year pro career isn’t enough, something that he acknowledges and in two periods found himself fighting once in 2015 and once in 2017. At the back end of 2016 he found himself on the wrong end of a split decision loss to Dennis Ceylan for the vacant European Featherweight title. That was his third fight that year. From there he has had five fights since May 2017 which isn’t still enough, but the draw (against Isaac Lowe) and the four wins sandwiched in between have given Walsh a platform of consistency and made him a happy fighter.
“Fighting is my favourite thing,” he says. “I didn’t have many in the amateurs and I haven’t had many in the pros so the more of it I can get in now the happier I’ll be.”
Walsh has his eye on a shot at the WBO Featherweight title, currently held by Shakur Stevenson and believes that should the American face IBF champion Josh Warrington in a unification this year both men will then move up in weight after the fight regardless of the result.
For now Walsh, like the other fighters left in the Golden Contract, is enjoying everything about the format and the subtle differences from a normal fight build-up.
“It keeps everyone on their toes, makes preparation a little more difficult but it’s exciting and gives the fans something to look forward to. It’s such a good idea and I’m wholeheartedly behind it.”