It’s not in experienced Australian coach Steve Deller‘s nature to make bold predictions but so excited is he about the talent of Conor Wallace that he can’t but help himself predict the Newry fighter will go all the way to the top.
Granted the reserved manager, coach and even promoter did temper his prediction with some ifs and buts – however, he remains confident that, if things are done right, the former Irish amateur stand out can progress via the Australian scene and eventually buckle a world title around his waist.
Wallace debuts on Saturday morning in the Brisbane suburb of Newstead, facing Aaron Sesay in a four rounder, and the light heavyweight is expected to be kept busy by Deller.
“I have not been this excited since I signed Melbourne Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jarrod Fletcher who went on to have 21 fights, 18 wins, three losses, losing only to world champions,” the fight boss told Irish-Boxing.com before almost reluctantly predicting success for the Ulsterman.
“I don’t usually say a lot about the boxers under my care early as we all know there is a lot of factors that go into taking a good amateur to a professional world title. I can only say I was that impressed with Conor Wallace the kid from Newry that I have gone out on a limb and stated that he will be a world champion.”
While the likes of IBF super bantamweight world champion TJ Doheny and WBO light middleweight #1 contender Dennis Hogan have been massive success stories Down Under, they didn’t necessarily travel to Oz with world title ambitions in their suitcase.
For Wallace, it’s a bit different, his sole reason for emigrating to boxing and to forge a successful career.
It seems he is benefiting from Deller’s contacts and indeed love affair with Ireland.
“It all started with my love for Ireland from my Dad. When I was a kid he would play Irish songs and tell me the history about Ireland, move forward from the early sixties to 2001 I started along with my good mate and boxing author Gary Todd bringing Irish amateur boxing teams to Australia.
“We started with Mr Crumlin Phil Sutcliffe Snr himself and went on to work with more of Ireland’s top amateur trainers such as Pat Ryan. One of the boys that came out with them was a young Patrick Hyland who I was so impressed with his fighting ability that I flew to Dublin to speak to Pat’s dad about signing him up, unfortunately I was unable to do so and Pat went on to have a outstanding professional carrier.”
“I have kept in contact with Pat over the years often talking about the upcoming Irish lads with Pat telling me about this tall lanky kid from Newry who he reckoned would be a dead certainty to win a gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth games to be held in Queensland Australia. The rest is history with Conor now part of our team.”
As mentioned, Deller, who has worked with the likes of Shane Knox, Gary Wills, world title challenger Doug Sam, and Jarrod Fletcher among others, has Irish fighter experience.
Deller worked alongside ‘Hurricane’ Hogan as he won a number of regional belts and reached world level before setting up his own promotional company alongside Paul Keegan and Danny Dimas and moving to train with Glenn Rushton.
“I brought Dennis to Australia on one of my amateur Irish fight nights many years ago he was fighting up around light heavyweight at the time and I thought he would make a good pro so I said to him if he ever wanted to come to Australia he would be able to train with myself and the boys down at Fortitude Boxing Gym.”
“Dennis did come back to Australia several years later and he started off training with us and had his first few fights around 79kg we eventually got him down to super welterweight and twenty wins later we got him a world title fight in Germany against the champ Jack Culcay which Dennis lost on points,” he explained before reflecting on another real Irish Australian success story Doheny.
“Both TJ and Dennis have done better in the professional ranks in Australia. TJ as we all know has gone on to win a World title good on him as he and his trainer Tony [Del Vecchio] stayed strong worked hard and never lost their dream. TJ is a class act. As for Conor it’s hard to compare him to those fighters at this stage.”
While Deller is predicting big things for the 22-year-old prospect, he notes some adjusting to the pro game and indeed Australian life will have to be done.
“Short term it’s about getting Conor settled into life in Australia, a regular training routine and getting to know him and the team he is working with. Long term we have to get the right fights, exposure and backing that is needed to take him to a world title.”