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Irish boxer Callum Walsh gets his shot in the limelight this week at Agganis Arena

Callum Walsh (left) is being brought along by famed trainer Freddie Roach (right).360 Promotions

In just about every way, Thursday night’s fight will be a step up for Callum Walsh. The super welterweight from Cork, Ireland, has looked impressive since making his professional debut in December 2021, compiling a 5-0 record.

But each of those bouts was held at Quiet Cannon Country Club outside of Los Angeles, with a capacity of approximately 1,500. And none were scheduled for more than six rounds.

When Walsh, 22, makes his way to the ring at Agganis Arena Thursday, he will be doing so in a venue that holds 6,000 and for a fight scheduled for 10 rounds.


It’s been quite an ascent for Walsh, who fought almost exclusively in Europe as an amateur before traveling to Los Angeles in hopes of finding a gym in which to train for the 2020 Olympics after the pandemic shut down all the ones in Ireland. He would make his way to Wild Card, the gym owned by legendary trainer Freddie Roach. The young prospect was put right to work, with Roach instructing him to spar on his first day.

“He looked great up there,” said Roach. “Usually people don’t handle it too well coming into a new gym, but I thought he handled it really well.”

It was the same treatment given to Manny Pacquiao when he showed up at Roach’s gym in 2001 as a 22-year-old from the Philippines looking to take his game to the next level. The two would work together for 20 years, with Pacquiao winning titles in eight divisions.

It’s not the only comparison promoter Tom Loeffler sees for Walsh and Pacquiao.

“It’s a total coincidence, but the connection that Freddie had with Manny Pacquiao, I see a lot of similarities with Callum in terms of being a southpaw and a big puncher, and not being afraid to be very aggressive in the ring,” said Loeffler.


Walsh, left, works with legendary trainer Freddie Roach ahead of Thursday's fight.360 Promotions

Walsh had always expected to turn pro, but that plan was accelerated after the pandemic came along, forcing the postponement of the Olympics. After he won his first fight, he traveled with Loeffler to Las Vegas to meet with Dana White. The UFC president thought Walsh could tap into the Irish fan base in boxing in the way Conor McGregor did with mixed martial arts.

White decided that Walsh’s next four bouts would be streamed on UFC Fight Pass as the main events, and after Walsh emerged victorious each time, White figured a fight in Boston, on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, would be perfect. The event also serves as a homecoming for Roach, who grew up in Dedham. His trip in February to promote the fight and check out Agganis was his first time back in Boston in more than five years.

There will be plenty of locals fighting on the card as well. Framingham native Danny O’Connor (30-3-0, 11 KOs) makes his return to the ring after a five-year absence. Jonathan de Pina (11-1-0) of Dorchester will take on former super featherweight world champion Andrew Cancio (21-5-2), and Weymouth’s Francis Hogan (13-0, 12 KOs) will look to remain unbeaten when he faces Jimmie Williams (18-10-2, 6 KOs) in a battle of middleweights.

Each of those fights is scheduled for eight rounds, leading up to Walsh’s main event. The opponent originally was supposed to be Leonardo Di Stefano Ruiz, but he broke a finger while sparring last week. Instead, Walsh will face Wesley Tucker (15-4, 9 KOs) of Toledo, Ohio.


Walsh was unfazed when informed that he would be facing a different challenger.

“I was like, ‘Aren’t you even going to ask me his name?’ ” said Roach, who was happy to pick the opponent for his pupil.

“I don’t want to watch him chase someone around the ring for 10 rounds. Nobody wants to see that. I wanted to see him to fight a fighter that can punch and is dangerous, because [Walsh] can punch and he’s dangerous. We wanted the best opponent we can find.”

Roach has been impressed by Walsh.AP/Associated Press

Not being familiar with Tucker does not have Walsh concerned.

“I’ve been around a long time, and fought a lot of people,” said Walsh. “I’ve fought every style, so I feel like I’m ready for anything. If I didn’t think I was ready, I wouldn’t fight.”

That confidence stems not only from working with Roach, but also from his training with Tony Ferguson, the UFC star known for his conditioning. It’s just part of the crossover going on between mixed martial arts and boxing this week.

On Wednesday, Combat Zone MMA, New England’s longest running MMA/kickboxing promotional company, is putting on a 13-fight card at Encore Boston Harbor featuring some of the region’s top prospects, with featherweight Conor Matthews (5-1) of Fall River in the main event against Andrew Cruz (8-4).

UFC featherweight Calvin Kattar, out of action as he works his way back to the octagon from a knee injury, is also the owner of Combat Zone MMA. The Methuen native will be on hand, as will White, who will be filming for his show “Looking for a Fight.” The series is billed as White traveling to different venues in search of potential superstars for UFC.


Tickets for both nights are still available, and both events will be streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.