“I should be beating lads at this level with my eyes closed” – No excuses for Wall after shock KO
Martin Wall is defiant mood after suffering surprise knockout defeat at the gloves of a journey man.
The new to the scene welter admits he hit the highest of highs debuting with a stoppage win before suffering the ultimate low by being stopped by Radoslav Mitev in the first round of his ‘Celtic Clash 7’ bout.
However, the likeable Crumlin BC graduate is adamant he won’t let the reverse, and particularly the manner in which it came about, define his career.
Eyebrows were raised by the result and were turned into frowns in the aftermath as questions regarding Dubliner’s future prospects were asked.
Knowing the game from a fan and fight perspective, Wall is aware that the quicker to judge will have doubts, but he takes comfort in the fact his errors he can address rather than any real deficiency cost him a second pro win.
“It was almost like stagefright. He threw it and I just froze,” explains Wall in a wide-ranging, brutally honest interview with Irish-Boxing.com.
“It was more me walking onto the shot, timing it perfectly for him.”
“That was the second or third time that he had thrown that shot in the fight. He had thrown it earlier and I saw it and I remember thinking ‘when he throws that again, I’m going to crack him with left hook’. He threw it again… and I didn’t move, that’s what happened.”
“I kind of moved back to my left as he threw so I moved onto it if anything. I should have been sharper.
“Enough time has passed that I can kind of laugh at it, go ‘you fucking eejit, how did you manage that?’ It’s not emotionally draining the head was sore for a couple of days after it, that’s for sure,” he adds before looking to take some positives from the shock defeat.
“It’s all experience, isn’t it? I’ve got the highest high, my first professional win, and the lowest low, a loss to a journeyman. Most lads never have that experience!”
It’s your typical ‘one punch can change a fight’ moment and, in that regard, it takes away any real feeling of embarrassment for the Jay Byrne-managed fighter.
“It wasn’t embarrassing in terms of getting hit with the shot or how the fight went, I couldn’t give a fuck what anyone else thought, they’re not the one getting punched in the head,” he adds before suggesting he was more annoyed he allowed himself to get caught clean by the Bulgarian.
“It was more just embarrassment in myself, I set high standards for myself. I felt like I didn’t even get a chance to get going.”
Unlike most fighters, the 25-year-old is open to the fact he has been hurt before. In his mind it’s not as much about having pride in a granite chin more about being smart enough not to get caught clean.
Wall described how “I’ve watched it back, multiple times, and I just got caught cold.”
“I’ve been hurt before, Young Phil [Sutcliffe] has hurt me in sparing a couple of times before over the years and I was once on a show in Greece a couple of years ago and got dropped.”
“It’s not that it was a massive punch, it was stinging, but it caught me before I had even gotten going, I hadn’t even broken a sweat. I did try to get up and, after watching it back I was thinking ‘Jesus, fair play to the ref, he gave me every opportunity’ – I don’t remember getting back up.”
Wall is insistent on not making any excuses for the defeat – despite perhaps being in a position to.
A pre-booked holiday in New York the week before the fight as well as a disparity on the scales could be pointed to as reasons for the defeat but Wall takes a different view.
Such excuses don’t tally well with the qualified accountant who noted how “it would be easy to say ‘this inconvenienced me’ or ‘that inconvenienced me’ but the fact of the matter is, that was not a fight at a high level, it just wasn’t.”
“I should have been able to go in there and get through it relatively easily. That was one of the ones you cruise through.”
“I’m not going to look for excuses, I could blame the weight, I could blame the holiday, I could blame any part of the camp.”
In terms of weight, Mitev was 2lbs heavier on the scales but likely much bigger in the ring once rehydrated and manager Byrne has insisted that Wall, who was 153lbs for the fight, must fight at 147lbs or below from now on.
That said, size, Wall believes, shouldn’t be an issue at this point in time.
He outlined how “a lot of people have said that to me and, only when I’m looking at the pictures, I’m noticing that he looked like he was carrying a fair bit more than me but you can’t use that as an excuse at this level.”
“Regardless, whether he was one or ten kilos heavier, I should be beating lads at this level with my eyes closed. Lads are always giving up weight and it’s not like it was muscle mass, it was more fat.”
It’s a result that would open up anyone to ridicule from the less-informed – despite the fact a number of top-end fighters, including James Tennyson, have bounced back from surprise knockout defeats in their formative fights.
However, Wall claims the response he received was reassuring and respectful and nothing like the much-overused Sergio Martinez quote seen on social media.
Wall revealed how “I actually felt like there were more people looking out for me, friends, family, everyone, asking how I was, telling me not worry, rather than people just ignoring me.”
“It’s nice to get that from people, acknowledging that you’re getting in the ring which is something that 99% of people wouldn’t do.”
“It hasn’t been too hard to deal with but your mind drifts back to it, the what if’s every couple of hours.”
Considering the welterweight, who works full time, isn’t in the game to feed his family or to achieve at world level, the defeat is easier to take.
Wall just wants to be part of the game, play his part in a growing domestic scene, entertain and put simple to fight.
He is keen to return in 2019, is open to a rematch, and still believes he can be part of a brilliant domestic 147lbs scene.
“I was never in it for world titles,” admits the brutally honest multiple Irish amateur title winner.
“The next one is just going to be another fight. It isn’t the kind of setback that some people are thinking it should be. I just want to fight, it isn’t about getting big wins, it isn’t about being the next big thing or running my mouth online, I just want to fight.”
“I’d happily fight him [Mitev] again but it’s not a personal thing. It was what it was, it’s not going to be one of them where I need to ‘scratch that off my record’ or anything like that.”
“That could have been any journeyman. It was a terrible shot to be caught with, he just swung it. It wasn’t a clean, technical shot. It could have been anyone that hit me with it,” he adds before suggesting he wants to return to the ring as soon as possible.
“Hopefully not too long. God knows when the next show in the Republic will be but I’m hoping that I’ll be on the first one in early 2019. I’ll be good to go.”
The welterweight division in Ireland is hot right now. Aside from his manager and BUI Celtic champion Byrne, there is Keane McMahon, Dylan Moran, Rohan Daté and John Joyce who are all in and around a similar level and most are itching for domestic title fights.
Wall feels he may have to get a win or two under his belt before he can call for those fights, but believes making the clashes may be easier after his stoppage defeat.
“Me and Jay had a chat after and have had a couple of chats since and he knows. Maybe the next fight will be another journeyman to give me a little bit of confidence back, reassure me – I know I can fight, that’s not the issue, just sometimes you have to reassure the fans that I am alright and that they can hold me to a higher standard – and then I’ll fight whoever,” he said before talking about the domestic scene.
“It was one of the first things I thought of when I was talking to my girlfriend after. She said ‘the lads might agree to fight you now!’ So, instead of having to stress your head out for six or eight weeks trying to push as many tickets as you can to pay for some journeyman, we could get a couple of all-Irish fights, competitive fights.”
“Martin Quinn and Karl Kelly, that was an exceptional fight, that’s a fight you want to be a part of.”
Indeed, being part of memorable fights and occasions, rather than building toward one big fight seems top of Wall’s agenda.
“People are going to remember that [Quinn v Kelly] and they’re not going to know or care about Martin and Karl’s records, it’s just going to be ‘remember that great scrap that the two lads had?'”
“That’s all you want, that’s all I want at the end of the day, for a couple of people to say to me ‘ah it’s you, fair play, I saw you fighting that time’, that’s it.”
“You have to know your limitations. I’m nearly 26 in this sport. If you don’t start out young with big promoters behind you, it’s very rare that you’re going to go on to do anything massive. A lot of lads seem to not accept that,” he continued before being honest about his current situation.
“You can understand their point of view as well if none of them want to fight me because I bring nothing to the table at the moment. It doesn’t look good and, sure, what do they get from a 1-1 guy when they’re 5, 6, 7, 8-0.”
“But, you have to look at the other side of the coin, what do you get out of fighting Pavel the Plumber who’s 2-and-25. They’d get more respect locally from fighting me than they will from having a guy flown in but it’s one of those things.”
“It’s a managers and promoters thing. I don’t think any of the boxers around welterweight are afraid of each other at all, they’re all fighting men. But, a lot of the time, managers have a plan set for their lad and they won’t move, they won’t deviate from that.”
Photo Credit: Sharon Flanagan