‘He needs to worry about me’ – Gold medal favourite doesn’t worry Kurt Walker

Kurt Walker is taking the ‘seeds are for planting’ approach into his last 16 Olympic clash.

The Canal BC fighter got Ireland’s Olympic boxing campaign off to a winning start in Tokyo in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The 26-year-old came out on top of a highly entertaining three-round fight with Jose Quiles Brotons. Walker’s reward for defeating the Spaniard fighter, was a fight with the gold medal favourite, reigning World Amateur Champion, and the #1 seed for the tournament, Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov.

It’s far from ideal and particularly harsh considering the Lisburn stylists opening foe but Walker isn’t feeling sorry for himself.

Indeed, those hoping for Mirzakhalilov Olympic medal success won’t be overly pleased with the draw he has been given considering the Irish fighter’s credentials. Walker agrees and argues it’s the Uzbek that should be worried.

“He has two arms and two legs like the rest of them. He needs to worry about me,” Walker told RTE after he registered an Olympic win.

The featherweight also suggested he goes into the fight with an advantage. Mirzakhalilov received a bye into the last 16 and Walker feels that can be a curse in disguise.

“I’ve the advantage, I have had a fight, I’ve been here and done it. I’ve had byes before and I wish I hadn’t got them. I’m confident anyway.”

While he responded to questions with regard to the challenge ahead with serious intent, there was a sense Walker was happy enough to be in the moment.

The decorated stylist thought he would miss his chance to become an Olympian and has been through some well-documented tough times of late, so to win a fight at a Games is extra special.

“I never thought I’d be an Olympian and now I’ve won an Olympic fight I’m just going to keep it going,” he said.

“I wouldn’t have been here with my daughter in the hospital, she’d have been just been born at the time of the second qualifier, I couldn’t of went, it was too early. I wouldn’t be here if wasn’t for [the delay]. It’s worked out well, this time last year I was out of shape, I never thought I would go to the Olympics and now I’m here one fight in.”

Reflecting on what was a tough fight, that saw one of Ireland’s most consistent sports stars in recent years show every part of his arsenal, Walker said: “He is very good, he’s experienced, he’s been about the same time I’ve been about and he’s won stuff.

“He came out flying in the second and gave me a good test. I had to dig deep in the third,” he adds before revealing what it was like to be the first out.

“There are nerves, first person to get out, it’s been a long camp and I’m just buzzing to go again.”

Next up for Ireland is Emmet Brennan, the Dublin Docklandss light heavyweight takes on World Championships silver medallist Dilshod Ruzmetov, another Uzbek, on Sunday July 25 at the more reasonable hour of 12:45pm.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com