Wednesday 7 December 2016

Nightmare set to become reality as Billy Walsh to depart for US this morning

Published 22/10/2015 | 07:42

Ireland boxing coach Billy Walsh
Ireland boxing coach Billy Walsh

It’s Seconds Out – quite literally – as Irish boxing confronts the reality that its legendary coach is on his way to the USA.

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Billy Walsh is due to fly out to America from Dublin airport this morning to take up a position as head coach with the USA women’s boxing team.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done”, admitted Ireland’s emotional former chief seconds early today.

Walsh’s departure comes less than a week after he returned through the same airport in celebration at Ireland’s most successful AIBA World Elite Championships campaign in Doha, Qatar.

Michael Conlan, Joe Ward and Michael O’Reilly secured gold, silver and bronze in Doha to mark the first time that Irish boxing has claimed three medals at this level.

Team Ireland also finished in 4th spot in the medals table at the 69-nation tournament and in 5th spot in the rankings table.

The USA didn’t win a medal and finished in joint 29th in the rankings table.

Moreover, Conlan is expected to become the only Irish boxer besides Katie Taylor and John Joe Nevin to ranked No.1 in the world when the rankings are adjusted to reflect performances in Doha.

While the USA failed to impress at the 18th edition of the World Championships, they are  considered the sleeping giants of the sport.

And the Americans, who have been head-hunting Walsh since last February, believe that the Wexford man is the man to awaken them from their slumber.

The former Irish head coach is expected to attend the USA Olympic trials which begin at the Convention Centre in Memphis on Monday.

The lightweight that emerges in Tennessee will be the fighter aiming to dethrone Katie Taylor at the AIBA World Elite Women’s Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Kazakhstan in January.

Taylor will be targeting an historic sixth successive title in Central Asia.

If she is drawn against an American, Walsh, the coach that knows her strengths and weaknesses better that anyone, will be plotting to bring her dominance of the 60kg class to an end.

Walsh has helped steer Ireland to over 90 medals at the Olympics, World, European Elite, European Games and European Union Championships over the last 13 years.

Over forty of those medals are gold.

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