This Thursday, boxing returns to the Quiet Cannon Country Club in Montebello, CA, as Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions will host the event, streamed live on UFC Fight Pass. Junior middleweight prospect Callum Walsh (3-0) will be looking to continue his winning streak by facing the veteran Benjamin Whitaker (15-8) from San Antonio, TX.
There is a ton of hype already for the twenty-one-year-old Walsh from Cork, Ireland. A city that has a population of a little over 200,000 and is considered the “Foodie Capital” according to popular internet search engines. Walsh originally grew up with his mother and then later on with his grandmother while his father was making a living in the U.S. Looking at his surroundings, Walsh felt like a lot of drinking and fighting happened while just working normal jobs. This wasn’t something that appealed to him, and he wanted to get out of there and do something with his life.
His interest started at the young age of six when his father took him to a gym, and that was also when he had his first sparring session. Once he got a taste of the sweet science, he continued to go back and hasn’t stopped since. After making the rounds through the amateur system, Walsh was good enough to get to a point where he would attempt to qualify for the Olympics. That’s when that proverbial speed bump called life came into play. The COID-19 global pandemic hit, and the world was literally shut down.
Walsh told NYF,” When COVID hit, the boxing gyms here in Ireland were shut down. I was trying to qualify for the Olympics at the time, and as I was hitting the bag in my garden, that’s when I decided to move here (U.S.) to train for the Olympics. When I came here, I got with Freddie (Roach), and that’s when I decided to turn Pro.”
Now you just don’t show up to the Wild Card Gym in L.A. and tell Freddie Roach, ‘I’m here to train,’ and it just happens; that’s not how that works. There is a process in place, and one that may not be for everyone. So what happened on that day when Walsh walked into the Wild Card Gym? He said, “I just showed up to the Wild Card Gym and was looking to train, and I showed up on a sparring day. Freddie said, ‘Look, if you want to train here, you have to spar .’That was my first day at the Wild Card, and after that, Freddie just wanted to keep me.”
That first impression landed him an opportunity to have Freddie Roach as his head trainer and later sign a promotional deal with 360 Promotions. Since his knockout victory debut in December, Walsh picked up two more K.O. victories and is looking for another this Thursday. While preparing for his opponent, Walsh spent a ton of rounds sparring with welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr., who fights on DAZN this Saturday night. Walsh told NYF, “It was a good opportunity, and I fought a lot of rounds with him the last couple of weeks. I felt very comfortable in there sparring with him, so it was a good experience.”
Tom Loeffler was on hand to witness the sparring and was impressed with Walsh’s showing against the hard-hitting Texan. Loeffler said, “I was there for the sparring with Vergil Ortiz Jr. Talk about world-class sparring; Callum held his own against Vergil, who is getting ready to fight a southpaw. It was tremendous work for both guys.”
Shifting back to the task at hand, which is this Thursday, Walsh said, “I don’t really know much about him. Obviously, Freddie has watched him, and he has the game plan. I don’t think he has seen anything like me with my speed and power. If I land a headshot early, he will have to decide if he wants to stay in there or not (laughs).” Ok, a sense of humor from the young Irish prospect looking to make a name for himself.
His promoter, Loeffler, feels this is a major step up for Walsh at this point in his career. Loeffler told NYF, “As far as his opponent Whitaker if you look at BoxRec, he is ranked 200 while Callum is ranked 500. This is a big step up, considering it is just his fourth fight. We are happy that we have an opponent like that for him. This will be a good marker of where Callum is at in his career. He is headlining the shows and is also selling a lot of tickets which a lot of young fighters don’t do or take seriously.”
Walsh wants everyone to know that are tuning in that he is “in the best shape of his life” and will be “as strong as ever” while hoping to give everyone watching “more than one minute of boxing.” Although his message to the fans is a little playful, the one to the rest of the division isn’t as much. Walsh said, “I’m coming. I’m twenty-one years old, young, hungry, and this is all I ever wanted. No man is going to take this from me.”
My Three Cents
Callum Walsh seems to be bringing some excitement as a young prospect and doing so under a trainer and promoter who know a thing or two about grooming fighters into legends both in and out of the ring. That Dana White co-sign is a massive feather in Walsh’s cap and will undoubtedly increase the eyeballs on his career. Will we get another highlight reel K.O. on Thursday night, or is Benjamin Whitaker the guy that derails the hype train? You will have to tune into UFC Fight Pass to find out.