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Kurt Walker Wants To Prove The Price Is Right Against James Beech And Beyond


Kurt Walker has been through hundreds of fight weeks in his life. This one feels different.

“Usually I’m just there to fight but, this time, it’s kind of my show,” said Walker, 10-0 (1 KO), whose featherweight fight with James Beech, 16-5 (2 KOs), will be live on DAZN and headlines this weekend’s Conlan Boxing card. “I half want it to be over but I also want to enjoy it all too. It’s the first time in a long while that it’s on me. For the first two years it wasn’t. I just had to turn up and fight. That’s good. You’re learning and I knew if I went in and did my stuff I’d be alright. This one, I have to think about it. Do everything smart.”

Walker was a truly outstanding amateur. Among other accolades, The Northern Irishman is a former European Games champion and Commonwealth Games silver medallist and competed at the 2020 Olympics. Fighters with his amateur pedigree grow accustomed to boxing the best of the best. Month after month and for year after year they stand opposite elite opponents who can almost predict their every move and are more than capable of capitalising on the tiniest mistake. All of a sudden they turn professional and are faced with journeyman boxers who have absolutely no intention of taking risks and are more concerned with navigating their way safely to the next fight.

With that in mind Walker’s promoter, Jamie Conlan, decided to match Walker differently. He has boxed 10 times in two years and although the names on his record might not be in the same stratosphere as him skill-wise and will only be familiar to hardcore fans, almost all have turned up with the intention of beating him.

“Thankfully, the way Jamie has matched me I think only one opponent has been negative but every other opponent I have fought has tried to beat my head off,” he laughed. “I don’t know if that’s because they see an opportunity to beat an Olympian when he’s new to the pro game or what it was but Jamie matched me quite tough in a journeymen sense. Those boys were trying to win. Maybe one or two of them were there to mess about but the rest of them were hard fights.

“You can be 100 times more talented than someone and it can still be hard fight. That’s the thing I’ve felt most. In the amateurs it’s three rounds and if you’re better than somebody you’ll show it. In six and eight round fights you can be levels and levels above but they can hit hard and bring you down. Things are just different in that kind of way. You can never be too sure.”

Walker is 29 years old and if he is going to achieve what he wants as a professional this has to be the year he begins to make a significant impression on the featherweight division. His year began on a winning note in January when he won a tough six-round fight with the decent Darwing Martinez at the famous Ulster Hall in Belfast. Walker took the fight on the hastily arranged card on short notice but knew that accepting that date would set him up perfectly for what was to come.

“I think I had six days notice for the show,” he said. “I feel usually I’m a bit rusty at the start of the year so I thought fighting then would do me the world of good and then fly straight back to England and do another seven or eight-week camp [Walker trains at Boxing Booth with Huzaifah Iqbal]. Thankfully it did. It all worked out for the best because I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. 

“Martinez can fight when he wants to fight. As an amateur, in any tournament at the start of the year I always got beat because I was rusty after Christmas. After I got beat, loads of times I went on to do well in the majors and win medals and win golds. I told Jamie that I needed a fight before this fight to get me going. I fought at a heavier weight and wasn’t that fit but it was good to get in the ring and get some more experience. I also wanted to fight at the Ulster Hall before I headlined.”

Beech is a solid domestic operator. Last year the two-weight area champion was stopped in seven by the British and Commonwealth champion, Nathaniel Collins, and he bounced straight into a fight with the quality Hopey Price, again losing in the seventh round. Beech is a determined fighter whose ambition gets him in trouble when he steps up in class. Walker is expecting a good fight. 

“Listen, every fighter’s different,” Walker said. “I’m not gonna go around saying I’m a knockout artist because I’m not. My main thing is my boxing and my brain. Ten-round fights are completely different compared to doing six or eight. You can break people down and get them out of there late when you’re giving them a lot of punishment. I’ve been working on stuff in the gym and I think this fight at this stage of my career is perfect for me. 

“I think it’ll be an exciting fight because it’ll sway in both ways. I think your man will come and try and have his moments early so he’ll put a bit of pressure on. I think it’ll be a good little fight and there will be levels to it.”

If Walker does prove his quality, he will set his sights firmly on the top of the domestic scene and one man in particular has caught his eye. Price is recovering from a hand injury and is then the mandatory challenger for Collins’ British title, but Walker would love to fight him. 

“In the UK there are plenty of featherweights, the likes of Hopey Price,” he said. “I’m not sure how long he’ll be out for but he would be my first pick. I would love to fight him on a big DAZN show somewhere – hopefully in Ireland or Belfast. I’m open to anything. It doesn’t really bother me.”

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