For those who tell Callum Walsh that boxing has strayed too far from the heyday where the best fought the best, he hears your criticism and vows to take boxing back to the days where reputation reigned supreme.
It’s nothing today for promoters and fighters to flat out tell the fighter next in line to take a seat on the bench until they’re a big enough draw. In boxing, it seems to simply make no sense for a fighter to risk losing to a threatening opponent if an easy fight is on the table. Low viewership, followers and attendance seem to mean as much today as losing a title did in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
In today’s game, fighters like Walsh are few and far between, and he wants to share the ring with every single one of them.
“I definitely think that everybody at the top level should be fighting each other, no matter what,” Walsh said. “Win or lose, we’re here to fight. Personally, I’ve never turned down a fight in my life, so when I get to that top level I’ll fight anybody, any time. I do think everybody at the top should be fighting each other and they should be making these big fights happen.”
It’s easy for an up-and-coming fighter to simply say those words to appeal to the masses. What boxing fan won’t get behind a guy who says boxers need to return to the days of Muhammad Ali fighting Henry Cooper, Sonny Liston x2 and Floyd Patterson all in a row or Kenny Norton x2, Rudi Lubbers, Joe Frazier and George Foreman in the span of 18 months?
It's not just words for Walsh, though. He’s demanding his words are marked. When he’s at the top, he’s only calling out the heavy hitters.
“I definitely feel that when I get to that top level, I’ll fight anybody,” Walsh said. “I’ve had that mentality my whole life, I’ve never said no to a fight, I’ve never walked away from a fight. Whoever they tell me to fight, that’s what I’ll do. It’s my job to fight, so why wouldn’t I?”
Aside from his frustration with boxers picking quicker paychecks than giving the term “undisputed champion” the weight it once carried, Walsh’s “feed me to the wolves” mentality comes from his close proximity to MMA, where losing a fight to a Khabib Nurmagomedov or an Alexander Volkanovski doesn’t send you into immediate obscurity.
“So many of these top-level guys are outpricing themselves,” Walsh said. “In the UFC, there’s champions that have six losses; everybody has a couple of losses. That’s how I think boxing should go. Everyone should just fight each other at the top level and one loss shouldn’t make such a big difference to your career. I think that if people looked at it like that, these big fights would happen.”
The undefeated professional wasn’t always the polished budding star he is today. In the amateur scene, he took losses and forced himself to bounce back, as opposed to assuming his career had just ended.
He's never stepped in the ring preparing to lose, and that will never change, but he’ll never be so scared of an L that he sacrifices who he is at his core. A fighter.
“People respect fighters who take tough fights,” Walsh said. “I think a loss shouldn’t matter at a top level. If you’re taking top level fights constantly, a loss shouldn’t matter. I think boxers do respect these guys that are taking tough opponents, not turning down fights. That’s what the fans want to see. They want to see these big fights. Even if you lose, you’ve still brought that entertainment to boxing.”
Catch the return of Callum Walsh LIVE from Hollywood Fight Night: Walsh vs Whittaker, Thursday, August 4, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!