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Hall fo Fame Coach Freddie Roach backs Callum Walsh to be Pacquiao Special

Freddie Roach believes Callum Walsh [5(4)-0] could be Manny Pacquiao kind of special – and has thought as much since the first day he walked into his famous Wild Card Gym. 

Just like with the Philippines star over 20 years ago, Roach had no idea who the Cork prospect was when he wandered into the Vine Street gym in LA on sparring Wednesdays.

Again, alla Pac Man, who went on to make history under the Boston-born and raised LA-based coach, the 22-year-old made an instant impression when he climbed through the ropes. 

“It’s funny,” Roach said. “Sometimes you open up the gym and it’s not a money maker. Other days a guy like Manny Pacquiao or a kid like this walks through the door.”

European underage gold medal winner, Walsh stood out in a spar with then NABF welterweight champion Blair Cobbs and Roach, who worked with Steve Collins, Bernard Dunne, Dean Byrne and Jamie Kavanagh previously, was instantly excited.

“That first day in the gym I knew he was something special. I said to Callum, ‘Are you a fighter?’ When he said he was I just said, ‘Then get ready to fight. Wednesday is sparring day.’ Right from the first you could see he was a good puncher. He’s better on offense than defense right now but we’re working on that.”

After the spar Roach asked ‘King’, who has since teamed up with 360 Promotions, about one Steve Collins, and he was impressed further by the Rebel county fighter’s confident response.

“He said, ‘I’m a better boxer,’” Roach recalled  “I hope he’s right because Steve was a great boxer. Callum has been pretty much with me ever since. This kid has a chance.”

“I always say you never know when the next Ali may walk through the door. One day it was Manny Pacquiao. Now it’s Callum. Opening the gym door at 7:30 in the morning every day to see who might walk in is what keeps me going. The young guys who do walk in deserve a fair shake. That’s what I’m trying to give Callum. If he gets it, I think he can be someone special.”

It’s high praise from a Hall of Fame coach, who like Dana White and manager Tom Loeffler, hasn’t been afraid to complement the six-time Irish underage champion. However, the fight game educated trio’s actions speak l evenouder than their complimentary words. Walsh has been topping UFC Fight Pass bills since his second fight and his resume compares extremely favourably to any 5-0 prospects. Now the Irish talent, who has passed a number of early tests, moves up to 10 rounds when he takes on Wesley Tucker[15(9)-4] on top of a St Patricks Eve bill at the  Agganis Arena in Boston, a venue that holds 6,000 people.

“A lot of people told me to give him an eight-rounder,” Roach said of the step Walsh is about to take. “I feel he’s shown enough in the gym to go right to 10.

“I want guys who want to work and Callum likes to work. We spar for a reason. To become a better fighter. It’s competition, like a real fight. He’s worked with a lot of pros in the gym. He’s knocked out a couple guys there. We think he’s ready.”


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years