Walsh tops bill for Valentine’s Weekend Massacre

BILLY WALSH will fulfil a lifetime ambition when he tops the bill in Cork City Hall on February 17.

His younger brother Pa is set to join him in the first professional show to be staged in Cork since Steve Collins successfully defended his WBO super-middleweight title against Chris Eubank at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 1995.

With six fights confirmed the ‘Valentine’s Weekend Massacre’ — promoted by Nowhere to Hyde Promotions — promises an extravaganza of boxing and, with a quarter of the seats already booked, it might be a good time to buy that Christmas present for the boxing fan in the family.

“The huge interest does not surprise me because Cork is a boxing city,” said Gary Hyde, himself a three times national finalist and a nephew of the legendary Tommy Hyde.

“I don’t think there has ever been a professional boxing show at City Hall but the venue is steeped in history and people still talk about Fred Teidt and John Martin and Albie Murphy after the 1956 Olympics.”

Hyde, who also made the Southern Region ABA finals, not only wants to reintroduce professional boxing in Cork but he intends to stage two shows annually.

That brings the Walsh brothers from Shanagarry into the equation. Billy, unbeaten as a juvenile, won the national senior title in a thriller with Rylane’s Seanie Barrett in 1994. Pa, after missing the national intermediate championships, jumped into the seniors in 1997 and lost to Glenn McClarnon in an exciting light welterweight final. Then Kevin, after losing a final to Brian Magee in 1998, beat Ian Timms for the middleweight title in 2000.

And all three could now feature at the City Hall.

Billy has claimed star billing following a sensational if somewhat belated professional debut. Born in Rhode Island, boxing was far from his mind when he returned to Providence where his father, Maurice, was once a professional footballer and played semi-pro baseball.

But he found himself in a boxing gym one day and, before long, found himself back in the ring under Steve Collins’ brother, Paschal, who looks after the fortunes of Kevin McBride.

A dream became a reality when he stopped Shaun Hanson just one minute into the second round of his debut fight and he had an audience of 7,000 cheering him on when he beat Rocky Muscas, a Surrey-based Greek, over four rounds on the undercard to Bernard Dunne’s European title fight at The Point.

After that contest Walsh said he wanted to box before the Cork fans, and Gary Hyde stepped in with the idea of a big show.

Walsh has mixed with the likes of Francie Barrett and James Moore, now both professionals, and he wants to challenge Moore in what could be an Irish light middeweight title fight.

Pa, who has been in semi-retirement for some time — he came out for at least three wins last season — is preparing for the upcoming national senior championships and, after fulfilling that engagement, will debut in Cork.

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