Sunday 18 February 2018

Exclusive: 'It's Murphy's Law that I'll face Irish opponent'- Billy Walsh

Billy Walsh
Billy Walsh
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

Billy Walsh fears that 'Murphy's Law' will pitch him into the opposite corner to an Irish boxer at next August's Rio Olympics.

Since becoming head coach of USA Boxing last October, Walsh has overseen half a dozen American boxers qualify for the Games, including potential opponents for Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce and - should she make it - Katie Taylor.

In an exclusive Irish Independent interview today, Walsh speaks of the "turmoil" he had to overcome to set in motion the rehabilitation of a once dominant world force in amateur boxing that has claimed just a solitary male bronze medal from the last three Olympiads.

But it is the thought of, potentially, competing against his own that has been tugging at Walsh's attention in recent weeks as Joyce and Brendan Irvine's qualifications extended the number of Irish boxers already assured of a place in Brazil to six.

All of those will have worked with him previously and Walsh admits that he has joked with Joyce - who first came onto Ireland's high performance programme at the age of 15 - that they may well be destined for a Rio showdown.

Even more immediately, the Wexford man could find himself in the opposite corner to Taylor at this month's Women's World Championships in Astana should the Bray girl be drawn against American Mikaela Mayer.

"Joking about it is the only way I can deal with this," Walsh admits. "At the end of the day, it's sport. We're not going to try and kill each other. I'll be doing my best for whoever is in my corner and they'll expect that from me.

f it happens, I've got to try to step away from the emotional side of it. I've no doubt it would be a daunting task going to that ring against my own. I'm an emotional guy at the best of times and I'm always emotional at ringside.

"I'd say it'll be like an out-of-body experience if it happens. And it's f*****g Murphy's Law, isn't it? It's probably on the cards!"

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