Walsh says ‘yes’ to Haughian fight after ref protest
Stephen Haughian’s Irish welterweight title fight is on, despite a last minute row over the referee for tonight’s clash at the Craigavon Leisure Centre.
Champion Walsh weighed in and then heard the news that Belfast man Sean Russell would be refereeing his title defence, leading to an automatic protest.
Walsh blasted: “I’d rather pull-out than fight. I’ve come up here to fight so there shouldn’t be a Belfast referee.”
A heated exchanged between Walsh and Northern Ireland Area secretary John Campbell didn’t resolve the issue as the Cork man made his feelings known.
It took promoter Brian Peters to intervene and bring the issue to a head.
“Billy has told me that he is fighting though I know his brother who’s his coach is not happy,” said Peters.
Secretary Campbell said he would in no way back down following the Board’s decision to nominate Russell as the sole official.
Campbell said: “We can’t change a referee at the request of a boxer. He said he wanted Emile Tiedt and there’s no way we can bow to that.”
So the ten-rounder goes ahead and Walsh says that he will cause an upset as he “has never been in better shape”.
Walsh, a former Irish senior champion, gave up the sport for ten years before returning to the sport in Boston four years ago.
“I had leased a couple of bars but they started to go bad and I decided to head to the States,” said Walsh.
“I bumped into Pascal Collins in a bar and that’s how I got back into it.
“I had a good win when winning the Irish title last year against (James) Gorman. There was some controversy because I won by a point but I thought it was a lot more.
“For this fight I’ve brought in a new conditioner and I’ve never trained as hard in my life. I think I’ll just be too much for Haughian.”
For Lurgan prospect Haughian it is going to be a test of mind and body.
Haughian says he expects a sell-out crowd to be roaring him on and is adamant that he will rise to the occasion.
“I am very confident about taking the title but I know that I have to make sure that the crowd does not effect me,” said Haughian.
“The atmosphere will be great but I just have to focus on my job.
“My training couldn’t have gone any better and hopefully I can now produce the performance to back that up.”
Walsh is known for his aggression and though he says he has “changed”, I expect Haughian to win by the seventh round.