Boxing

Ryan Walsh buoyed by bookies backing James Tennyson

Ryan Walsh (right) fires a right hand at Darren Traynor during his first defence of the British Featherweight title at York Hall, London in January
Picture by PA
Andy Watters

THE fact that some bookies are tipping challenger James Tennyson to dethrone him has given Ryan Walsh extra incentive to win Saturday night’s British featherweight title rumble.

Lisburn’s Tennyson, who has said he takes no notice of the betting odds, takes on Norfolk native Walsh at London’s Copper Box Arena and the Kronk fighter is slight favourite in the betting, although most bookmakers see the fight as too close to call.

Walsh (20-1-1) intends to prove the doubters wrong. The one loss of his career was a Commonwealth title challenge against Lee Selby and he has responded by winning the British title in September last year against Samir Mouneimne. He defended the belt in January by stopping Darren Traynor and describes taking on Tennyson as the most exciting fight of his life.

“I found that very interesting (that Tennyson was favourite) and I was a little bit shocked by it, but it gives me that added incentive,” he said.

“I don’t mind it at all; it doesn’t really matter does it? Tennyson signing with Frank Warren was a big thing and that made him the favourite but that helps me, it keeps me right where I should be. I can’t look past anybody, not that I ever would.

“If everyone is backing him that’s brilliant, that’s exactly how I like to be treated – it adds a little bit of spice to everything and I’m happy with that, it gives me something extra and I’ve heard some quotes that give me added incentive to make sure I perform at my best.”

Tennyson’s quotes may have annoyed him but Walsh admits he hasn’t seen much of the Celtic featherweight champ in action. Tennyson will bring a 16-1 record with him and Walsh says he deserves credit for battling back from an early loss to reach this stage.

“I’ve heard about him getting knocked out and I give him props for that,” he said.

“If you lose a fight and then come back it’s a good test of character and I’ve been in that boat.

“I’ve looked back over his whole career and he’s never fought anyone like me and I’m really excited for it because I know he’s hungry and I know he’s coming to try and take the title off me.

“It’ll definitely bring out the best in me. I’ve seen very limited footage of him, so it’s going to be learning on the job and I like that – a good fighter should be able to do that and I’ll find out where I’m at.”

Walsh (29) has been a pro for eight years now. After a bright start his career stalled following the Selby defeat, but he has built momentum again and says this is a “huge year” for him.

“After Saturday I want to push on to bigger and better things and bigger titles,” he said.

“My goal was always to be a British champion and the ultimate dream is to be the best, to be a world champion. There’s four titles out there and I happen to be in one of the better divisions. On the world scene right now the featherweight division is brilliant and I’m grateful for that.

“I have to win on Saturday and I have then to keep winning so I see this as a huge year. It started when I won the title last year and it has kept going – being this active will get the best out of me definitely.

“I’m really happy with how this year’s going and how it’s looking to unfold and on Saturday I’ll keep the ball rolling.”

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