KURT Walker makes his professional debut at featherweight on the undercard of tomorrow night’s world light-welterweight title blockbuster between pound-for-pound star Josh Taylor and unbeaten challenger Jack Catterall.
Walker is one of four Irish fighters on the bill at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow. He takes on Jaroslav Hriadel while fellow debutant Kieran Molloy meets dangerous Spaniard Damian Esquisabel who pulled off a shock win when he beat Dominic Donegan in Belfast last September.
Also on the card is Paddy Donovan, rated by his coach Andy Lee as the most exciting fighter he trains. Limerick welterweight Donovan is up against Czech hardman Miroslav Serban who floored Paul Hyland junior at the Ulster Hall a couple of years ago.
But Kildare’s Eric Donovan faces the toughest test of the lot.
‘Lilywhite Lightening’ tangles with former Cuban double Olympic gold medallist Robeisy Ramirez who reigned supreme at the 2012 and 2016 Games at flyweight and bantamweight respectively before he defected to the USA in 2019.
With Antrim, Galway, Limerick and Kildare all represented, there’ll be no shortage of Irish fans in Glasgow tomorrow and former amateur star Walker, now trained by Adam Booth in London, intends to impress at the Hydro.
“I’m buzzing, I just can’t wait to get in there now,” said the Lisburn southpaw.
“It’s feels like I’ve been waiting forever and I just want to get in there, look good, do the business and then get a few days off and get back at it. I think you’ll see some differences from my amateur style but you’ll see similarities as well.
“I’m not going to throw everything I used to do out, I just want to add to it. You’ll see less movement maybe and a bit more ‘whack’ on my shots hopefully.”
There’s a stark difference between preparing for an amateur tournament and being involved throughout fight week on a bill of the stature of Taylor-Catterall after a 14-week training camp in London with Booth. Walker has enjoyed the entire experience but he expects to have to earn his first win against Czech Hriadel.
“I’ve watched a bit of him and he’s durable and he’s fit,” he said.
“He’s not at my level at all but he comes to win and he’s tough.”
Josh Taylor is to Glasgow what Carl Frampton was to Belfast and the atmosphere tomorrow night should be electric. The ‘Tartan Tornado’ dominated verbal sparring with Catterall (who sparred Tyrone McKenna in preparation for his world title shot) but the challenger remains quietly confident.
"I have a lot of respect for Josh and his accomplishments," said the Jamie Moore-trained former British champion.
"But all that goes out the window. This is what I'm in the sport for, to test myself against great fighters like Josh. I'm ready for these sorts of challenges.
"It's going to be a tough fight but I'm fully confident I can go in there and cause an upset. Everything has got to come together and I know it will."