Chris Lakey: Why seeing the Walsh twins on the same bill would be just the ticket
PUBLISHED: 11:48 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:48 08 March 2019
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The joy of a sporting achievement is one to behold.
Footballers celebrating a goal, a rugby player flying through the air to touch down. A boxer having his arm raised in victory.
Love em all. And miss them too.
The last time I saw Liam Walsh’s arm raised in victory was in October, 2016, which seems a scandalously long time ago. He had just clinically dismantled the challenge of Andrey Klimov, earning him the right to fight Gervonta Davis for the world title, which he did in May 2017. Davis came out on top and has since proved to be one of the most dangerous boxers in the world. Liam met the wrong man.
Shortly afterwards, his promoter, Frank Warren, announced a parting of the ways. And Liam hasn’t fought since. Britain’s best super-featherweight has not lifted a glove in a pro ring – except that of his twin brother Ryan, who just keeps on being the hardest of featherweights to beat.
Liam’s story is akin to Harry Kane coming to the end of his contract at Spurs and not being wanted by anyone else bar a few lower division clubs willing to pay only a pittance for the services of a Rolls Royce of a sportsman.
That he could go almost two years without a ring appearance suggests, in my extremely humble opinion, that there are narrow little lanes in the world of boxing that, once you go down them, are extremely difficult to escape. Liam has been in a cul de sac, going nowhere, until this week when it was announced he and Ryan had signed for the management company MTK Global.
This business has serious credentials and, if I can put two and two together and make any number I want, it looks like Liam and Ryan have the opportunity through MTK to feature together on the big stage.
I’ve seen that before – the twins sharing a fight night – and it is something to behold.
Former British and European champion Matthew Macklin is one of MTK Global’s founders and is a ringside expert for Sky Sports fights – generally those from Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom empire. That suggests a relationship which (again, it’s two plus two) suggests a high profile. Not that the twins are publicity grabbers themselves: meet Liam and you wouldn’t think you were chatting to a boxer. No sign of cauliflower ears, no misshapen features... just a quietly-spoken mild-mannered and humble bloke. Get him into a boxing ring and he is a classy operator.
This is how classy: if you look carefully you will spot him holding the spit bucket at the local fight nights. I looked for him one night at a show, and didn’t even see him walk to the corner and ‘adopt the position’. He ghosted in and out, no fanfare; just supporting the other lads from the Norwich gym of trainer Graham Everett. That’s how he operates (in fact, it is how the whole gym operates): no fuss.
Ryan was on the bill the night Liam lost to Davis, but has fought just twice since. Their problem is they are dangerous opponents. Because Ryan has the British belt he has to fight - that cannot be ducked. But because Liam held no belts or titles, his future was in the hands others - and if they didn’t fancy Liam Walsh, then there wasn’t much he could do about it.
When MTK Global announced it had signed the twins, there as a very interesting comment from Liam: “One of the reasons I haven’t fought over the last couple of years was because I didn’t want to go back to square one and have meaningless fights, but now there’s nobody more capable of putting me in big fights than MTK.”
Why one earth should Liam Walsh be expected to fight for peanuts, in contests that mean nothing? Without being snobby about this, he was way too high up the ladder for that.
Anyway, I am struggling to explain how excited I am at the prospect of seeing the twins back, maybe in the same ring, on the same night.
They have a terrific army of fans from north Norfolk, they bring a vibrancy to an event, they are quality boxers and part of a quality Norwich team.
Anything missing? Well, it won’t happen, but Michael Walsh, the twins’ older brother, appearing on a fight night would complete that squared circle for me. Michael – 11 fights, 11 wins and every one of them stopped early. Beat that!
But rest assured, Michael will be at ringside. I’ll settle for that.
A thousand cuts?
So, the Ipswich manager says he isn’t giving up on conjuring up the Greatest of Great Escapes at Portman Road.
And why would he?
Any manager worth his salt would carry on the good fight, no matter how hopeless the task – but it is getting to the point where he is probably going to have to hold his hands up and say ‘we’re done’. That day could be very soon, because not only are his team not performing, but they are writing their own obituary.
A week ago Nelson Oliveira, deemed not good enough for Norwich City and farmed out to Reading on loan, scored at Portman Road in a six-pointer win for the Royals.
And this was on a day when Ipswich decided the team would be led out by a dog called Bowza, which had help save the life of an elderly woman. Noble gesture. Noble dog. Hardly a dog day afternoon. And in true (current) style, Town were quick to take up the photo opportunity, with Bowza at the training ground with various types, including the manager and midfielder Cole Skuse.
Well, if a visit from Terry Butcher, George Burley and others can’t inspire them, what harm could Bowza do?
With 11 games to go, Town are a dozen points from safety - at least when Norwich went down to League One they had the courtesy to battle away until the final day. Town had been on their joint longest unbeaten run of the season going into the Reading game – three draws in a row – but so far behind are they that it didn’t move them off the bottom.
This is all very easy to say when City sit top of the table, and I make no excuse for it. Because I know Ipswich fans would do the same. They waved bank notes at City fans in 2007 when Marcus Evans took over. Might as well have waved Monopoly money.
The tables will be turned one day: Ipswich will find success, City will be hit by failure. And the taunting will go to and fro. It’s the way of things. We’re all prepared for it.
The thing is, I can’t see how Ipswich can work a way out of the mess they are in now. I could when City went down because they had players who were under-performing. But Town? What have they got going for them?