Callum “King” Walsh, another one of prizefighting’s rising Irish stars, brings his skills to New York on Nov. 9. He challenges Ismael Villarreal for the Bronx resident’s WBC Silver super welterweight title in a 10-rounder at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
A celebrated amateur back home, the six-foot southpaw, who’s 22 and out of Cork, is unique among Irish fighters in recent times: all his professional fights have been States-side.
Fighting out of Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California, he made his pro debut in December 2021 with a first round KO of Earl Henry in Montebello, Calif.
Under Roach’s tutelage, Walsh went on to knock out six more opponents en route to scripting an 8-0 ledger. In Villarreal, he faces a fellow puncher with a 13-1 [9 KO] record.
By his own admission, most of Walsh’s power is in his left hand. “I have a good left hand,” he told the Echo.
But it’s not all power. He can box, too, thanks to the 16 years he’s spent in the sport.
“I got put into a boxing gym when I was six years old and I’ve been there ever since,” Walsh replied when asked when he started boxing.
It was his dad, Ian’s idea. Did Ian box?
“He tried! Yeah, he tried!” Walsh laughed.
By his own account, Walsh had 120 amateur fights, losing just 10. “I won six Irish national titles, I won a European gold medal – at 60kg in 2017,” he said.
For such an accomplished pugilist, Walsh can point to no hero or ring inspiration. Surprisingly, he’s not a fight fan either.
“Like I tell everybody I'm not a boxing fan. I’ve never been – I’ve never watched boxing,” he states. “I’ve never been interested, I just know how to fight, I know how to win and that’s it.”
Walsh feels no pressure either headlining a Madison Square Garden card at such a young age.
“I feel like this is what I'm supposed to. I feel like this is what I'm here for,” he pointed out. “I find that MSG is where people dream of fighting and I'm very grateful that I can do it at such a young age, and I feel like this is just a just the beginning of something.”
“For Callum to be making his Garden debut is a testament to his hard work and talent,” said his Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach. “But to be the headliner, in just his ninth pro fight, that is a ringing endorsement from The Garden executives. Villarreal is another big test for Callum. Callum wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“My dream is to be a world boxing champion and to achieve it I have to eliminate all the obstacles that come my way and Callum Walsh will be no exception,” said Villarreal. “I will be happy to do it in New York in front of my fans, in the city where I was born and have lived all my life. I know that this victory will open the doors for me to compete in a world championship no later than 2024. On November 9, the boxing world will know who Ismael "Maelo" Villarreal is.”
Tickets priced at $205, $155, $55, and $35, are available online at ww.msg.com or at the Madison Square Garden box office and via Ticketmaster locations. Accessible and companion seats are available via the Accessibility Department at 888.609.7599.
The title fight will be broadcast globally on UFC FIGHT PASS.