Just three months after a memorable, yet controversial fight with rival Alan Philpott, Shay Walsh reveals new-found doubts about his fighting future, despite his yearning for a rematch.
Re-injuring his previously broken jaw in the title fight on July 7, 2017, the Lancastrian’s career as a fighter could be over but he hopes to continue his involvement by setting up an MMA gym in his local community.
After Walsh’s devastating defeat to Tom Duquesnoy, where the Lancastrian lost his world championship, a showdown with Lonsdale champion Philpott edged closer, especially with the compactness of BAMMA’s bantamweight division.
Philpott failed to slay the “Firekid” in the same way Walsh had, but their respective losses to Europe’s best set the wheels in motion for their eventual meeting in Dublin, Ireland.
However, despite the immense hype, the fight suffered a disappointing ending when Philpott illegally kicked Walsh whilst grounded, leading to a no contest at BAMMA 30.
“I have mixed thoughts on it,” confessed Walsh, speaking to MMA Plus. “My first thought when I saw the replay was he paused, saw that I was in a bad position and basically thought ‘sod it’ and let the kick go. Whether it was a heat of the moment thing or whatever, he knew I was in an illegal position and still threw the kick.
“I wasn’t gonna cry over spilt milk. I don’t want to win the belt by a disqualification win, who does? But it was an illegal kick that brought a stop to the contest. So if that’s not a disqualification, I don’t know what is. If that isn’t a disqualification, then disqualifications shouldn’t exist”.
In terms of the show, Shay was evidently hyped for one of the biggest fights of his career. With the event being a stone’s throw away from Philpott’s turf in Northern Ireland, he brought strong support, further adding to the occasion.
A rowdy following travelled in support of Walsh as well, as the atmosphere encapsulated the severity of the title contest. But with such a dramatic build-up, the final product failed to deliver.
“The build-up was great, it was the biggest show I’d ever been a part of; main event, live TV, a lot of people were excited about the fight. We didn’t get to see the fight play out and it’s obviously going to be a while before I’m ready. Even if there is a possibility of a rematch, I’m not ready at all at the moment.”
Looking back on the bout, Walsh was adamant he had every chance of winning the fight despite the quickfire start to proceedings from “The Apprentice.”
“It obviously wasn’t an ideal start for me, it was a great start for Alan and everyone can see that. But I felt like he hit me with his best shots within the first couple of minutes. He could see I was still completely there. I felt like he panicked. He was thinking ‘Oh, sh*t, I’m in for a long night here’ and that’s what made him throw the kick without thinking”.
Immediately after the clash of the bantamweights, Philpott was quick to ridicule his 135lb rival.
“He showed himself to be a classless piece of sh*t as far as I’m concerned,” exclaimed Walsh. With the clear lack of disrespect shown from his division counterpart, Walsh was clearly in dismay at the comments received but revealed things weren’t always this way with the Ballymena native.
“I’ve always been friendly with Alan at shows. We’ve obviously been in the same weight category but like I say, we used to speak and it was a fight that we both knew was on each other’s radar. There was mutual respect.”
“I could’ve forgiven a heat of the moment kick if he’d have come out and said ‘Oh sh*t, my bad, it was clearly illegal, I’m sorry’ but the f*cking idiot, whilst I’m sat in hospital waiting for surgery, comes putting it all on Facebook saying ‘He stole it from me, he quit’ and all of this sh*t. He just proved himself to be a f*cking goon as far as I’m concerned”.
Walsh spoke about the recurring jaw injury and admitted newfound doubts.
“It first broke against Andrew Fisher when he landed an uppercut in the opening exchanges, but the fight went on for two rounds before it was stopped. My jaw was amended and stronger than ever. Before this fight, the injury never played on my mind.
“Now, of course, we’re in a completely different situation. It’s the second time it’s been broken but there have been three separate breaks and now there’s five plates and twenty screws in there and it’s not a good look”.
The former bantamweight world champion, who has confessed to retirement considerations in the past, admitted it was again on his mind after the fight.
“After the break, two and a half months ago, it was definitely on my mind. I go back and forth. Even that fight with Alan, I loved the process. I loved everything about it” an emotional Walsh revealed.
“Everything I worked so hard for was all coming into place. We were getting the exposure we deserved. And the thing is, I’m my best person when I’ve got a fight coming up. So to think I might never do that again, it f*cking upsets me, to be honest. All I’ve been thinking about is wanting to fight Alan again. [Retirement] is still on my mind a little bit but I really want that rematch.”
Walsh, known as a local legend in his home city of Lancaster commended the fantastic support he has received over the years and revealed a new venture in life in his home city.
“The support is always great from Lancaster and it’s mad to see people I don’t know personally, know who I am. That’s been great to see and hopefully, it can inspire more guys in the future. I’m starting to look to the future a little bit more and I’m in the process of starting my own gym in Lancaster. So that’s something to keep me occupied whilst my fighting future is uncertain. It’s something I always knew I was going to do at some point. Hopefully, I’ve built a good reputation here and it’s time to get more of a regular wage rather than relying on fight money. It’s a risky living.”