Thursday, March 21, 2024

Is Callum Walsh Ready For A World Title Shot?

One of the traditions of St. Patrick's Day week in New York City, NY in many years have been Boxing cards held in Madison Square Garden’s Theater, which in this observer’s youth was known as the Felt Forum. While this has developed into a tradition over many years, there have been times where it has not been held every year, most notably during the global COVID-19 epidemic. Nevertheless, Boxing in New York City during St. Patrick's Day week has served as a springboard of sorts for fighters on the verge of fighting for world championships, from Featherweight contender Michael Conlan, to former Middleweight contender John Duddy, who participated in what turned out to be an all-time classic in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in 2006 when he went toe to toe for twelve brutal rounds against former Jr. Middleweight world champion Luis “Yory Boy” Campas, defeating him via unanimous decision and establishing himself back then as a contender in the Middleweight division.

On March 15th, The Theater played host to a rising prospect, who like Duddy before him many years ago, might look to make a home for himself inside of Madison Square Garden, or at least establish either The Theater or the Garden’s main arena, as a frequent stop as he continues his career. Yours truly is referring to undefeated Jr. Middleweight Callum Walsh. Walsh, who was fighting for the second consecutive time in The Theater after scoring a ten round unanimous decision in November of last year over Ismael Villarreal. In some ways, Walsh took a significant step forward in that fight because it was the first time he had gone ten rounds in his career. This time, the opposition for Walsh would come in the form of Dauren Yeleussinov. A veteran of fifteen professional fights coming into this encounter, Yeleussinov may have been getting what amounted to a last chance to enter into world title contention at thirty-seven years of age.

Nevertheless, Yeleussinov was an opponent that one could expect to see on the way up for a prospect like Walsh. The addition of this bout being for the WBC Continental Americas championship in the Jr. Middleweight division also presented another step up for Walsh. What occurred in this fight was perhaps a prospect showing that he might be ready to face a top contender or potentially challenge for a world championship, but also a testament of one fighter’s durability. For nine rounds, Walsh administered what could be best described as a gradual beating to Yeleussinov. By landing hard, thudding blows to the body and head, Walsh gradually broke Yeleussinov down  as Yeleussinov suffered significant damage to his face throughout the fight including a left eye that was nearly swollen shut. While the fight ultimately proved to be one-sided, what was impressive about Walsh’s performance was the poise he showed in not rushing in trying to get a stoppage and simply took things as they came in getting a ninth round stoppage to move to 10-0, with 8 Knockouts in his career. 

Although there was not much to say about this fight beyond the disciplined approach of Walsh and the mettle of Yeleussinov, by Walsh earning what was his second regional title in the WBC rankings after previously winning the WBC’s USA Silver title. While many overlook the accomplishment of winning regional titles in a career, the purpose those titles serve in an overall picture is it helps elevate a fighter into the world rankings. With this win, Walsh should be rated in the top fifteen in the Jr. Middleweight division. Despite only having ten professional fights it would appear that Walsh may indeed be on the fast track towards a potential shot at a world championship. Whether or not Walsh will be ready when that time comes, assuming he continues to win, it is important to keep in mind that not all fighters respective climbs up the rankings is not exactly the same and there are times where determining whether a fighter is ready will come down to a case by case basis rather than a set number of fights in a career. 

With his next fight tentatively scheduled for June, this observer believes if he can remain active and continue winning, Walsh could well be in position to fight for a world title sometime within the next year. When one also factors in that the Jr. Middleweight division is seemingly in the midst of a period of transition, there will likely be opportunities to move up the ladder of contention quicker because there will also likely be world championships that will have vacancies, and thus, it will allow contenders like Walsh the chance to maneuver to try and get in position to fight for a vacant world title. It may come down to who Walsh is put in with in his next two or three fights that may determine how soon he gets that chance.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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