Irish fight fans loved nothing more than to see Dee Walsh in full flow. Watching him give a hit-and-not-be-hit masterclass via his hands down, confident, stylish approach was a boxing joy to behold for everyone bar those in opposing corners.
However, both the joy and the love for the fight game have gone for the Irish light middleweight champion and he has elected to hang up his gloves as a result.
Boxing politics had sickened the talented and entertaining 25 year old into retirement previously, but he returned last year and some quality performances prompted a fresh brewing of excitement.
Over recent months, however that emotion was not felt by Walsh.
Despite not enjoying it anymore he former Irish amateur champion and most recent light middleweight domestic pro champ continued to train with an eye on returning on a February 6 Europa Hotel fight night.
Speaking to Irish-boxing.com he explained finance and the thought of some extra cash proved motivation behind his decision to fight on, but once he felt that conflicted with his strong Christian faith he elected to call it a day.
Now ‘Waldo’ will no longer be found in a pro ring.
“To be honest I have been humming and hawing about over the last few months. I was training for the February show, but getting up in the morning I was dreading going to training, I was dreading every moment I was there and at night I was dreading going through it all again the next day,” Walsh told Irish-boxing.com.
“I fell out of love with all. I kept training for February thinking the money would come in handy, but then I read the bible verse ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’. Considering I was only boxing for money I felt it was time to stop. I put my faith in God and I felt I was doing it for the wrong reasons.
“I rang Ger McCafferty and in fairness he didn’t try to persuade me to change my mind. He noticed I wasn’t enjoying it and said there was no point if my heart wasn’t in it. Mark Dunlop rang me soon after and he understood too.”
There were suggestions on Friday that a path way toward a World title might open for the stylist, but even if such rumours are true Walsh wouldn’t change his mind.
“I seen the post on Facebook, which suggested I could be close to a World title shot. I presume that one of Joe Selkirk or Gary Cocoran are going to pull out (of their WBO Intercontinental fight) and that they are looking to put the winner in with Liam Smith eventually, but it just doesn’t appeal to me.
“You don’t have to be a World champion to be happy and there are plenty of unhappy World champions. I am happy now, really content and happy with my decision,” a calm and admittedly content sounding Walsh continued.
A fear of any of the aforementioned certainly isn’t the catalyst behind a decision not to return for big fights. The 12-0 operator’s gloves may be hanging up, but Walsh hasn’t lost any of the confidence that played a massive part in making him an exciting prospect.
“Selkirk, Corcoran, even Liam Smith, I would beat them all. That is just my honest opinion, but as I said I don’t need to be World champion to be happy and I am happy with my decision. People may have been impressed with my last three fights, but I have probably only shown 60 percent of what I can do in those fights. I was going the gym and doing the morning session with Ger. I was meant to train again later in the day and go for a run, but I wouldn’t do anything outside of the gym. I stopped doing the second session, I wasn’t eating right and would blow up between fights and then have to cut weight.
“All that was happening because I wasn’t loving the sport anymore and it was becoming a vicious circle.I think when you look at the landscape now I could have been a World champion you have to believe you could beat some the fighters out there, but I just don’t have the love.”
While the former Gary Hyde and then Mark Dunlop-managed fighter has fallen out of love with fighting he hasn’t lost respect for the art of boxing.
The Belfast fighter was always open with his dislike for the business end of the game – although he did take the ‘Wealthy’ ring moniker for a period – and was vocal about he felt politics was a blight on his sport, but Walsh remains aware of the benefits of boxing.
“You know I hated the corruption and that end of things. I always hated that part of boxing, but if a kid came up to me and asked if they should box I would say yes. Look at it this way the place I grew up in is one of the craziest places in Belfast. Someone came up to me the other day and said ‘how did you ever get out of that place’ and I said it was because of boxing. Because of boxing I stayed out of trouble and I am not on drugs and the like.
“In fact I was just saying to Ger I might get my coaching badges. I would love to help out down in St John Bosco and give back that way.”
Irish fight fans can no longer look forward in anticipation of what might lie ahead for the fan friendly puncher, but some will reflect on a the potential, admittedly unfulfilled potential, they witnessed particularly in his Irish title win over Terry Maughan and his performance against Patryk Litkiewicz, which all but prompted ringside fans to burst out singing MC Hammer’s ‘U Can’t Touch This’.
When Walsh reflects on his career it’s amateur moments that stand out and one in particular he highlights as a high.
“Winning the Irish title was my proudest moment,” he continued.
“I kept losing finals by a point here and there, but I went out to America for a bit and when I came back I stopped listening to my coaches to be honest.
“That is when I started to box with my hands down and move. I started to trust just my skill. I think since I started to do that I had 27 or 28 fights losing only two and that was to Eamonn O’Kane and that Conrad (Cummings) defeat. I won the Irish title going into most fights as underdog beating Bernard Roe and Stephen O’Reilly, who was a European medalist at the time. That is my proudest moment in boxing.”