Ryan Walsh has held the British featherweight title since a split decision win over Samir Mouneimne back in Sept. 2015, and had in his previous two outings escaped with the belt by the skin of his teeth, drawing with Isaac Lowe in Feb. 2018 and winning a split decision over Reece Bellotti in Dec. 2018.
On Saturday, it was much the same story, as Walsh (24-2-2, 11 KO) retained again via split decision, narrowly outpointing Lewis Paulin (12-1, 3 KO) at London’s York Hall.
Walsh won on scores of 113-115, 115-114, and 117-111. Bad Left Hook scored the fight even at 114-114, with both fighters having their successes in a competitive, back-and-forth battle. The 117-111 Walsh card is pretty atrocious, but the other two are reasonable.
Walsh, 33, is not more than a domestic featherweight, maybe European level, but he’s good at the level. Paulin, 28, hadn’t fought in over a year, and the Scottish southpaw gave a decent accounting of himself at this level, too.
It wasn’t a fight I had tremendously strong feelings about as far as the outcome, which I guess is obvious as I scored it a draw. But it was an entertaining main event, too, and Walsh moves on still holding the British featherweight title. There are still quality potential challengers on the domestic level out there — Commonwealth titleholder Leigh Wood, Gamal Yafai, a rematch with Lowe, etc. — but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him try to land another shot at the European title, either. Walsh lost a split decision to Dennis Ceylan in Denmark in Oct. 2016 fighting for that title, which is currently held by Andoni Gago, a Spanish veteran Walsh could certainly compete with if the fight got made.
Ohara Davies PTS-10 Miguel Vazquez
Davies won on a score of 97-94, and as soon as he was announced the winner, he shook his head aggressively, basically refused to allow his hand to be raised, and went over and raised Vazquez’s hand. BLH had it 96-94 for Vazquez, and if anything I think I could’ve gone a round wider for the Mexican. Vazquez (41-8, 15 KO) didn’t do anything special, don’t get me wrong, but he got the better of Davies (19-2, 14 KO), and Davies knew it. Davies was battling through a rib injury, it seemed, which didn’t help him at all, but simple fact is Davies didn’t look motivated at all — they focused on his corner between the second and third rounds and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a fighter look so disinterested.
Daniel Egbunike PTS-10 Martin McDonagh
A battle of unbeaten 140-pounders early in their careers. Egbunike (5-0, 3 KO) was the clearly more complete fighter, had enough power to at least make some dents, and won on a score of 97-93. McDonagh (5-1, 0 KO) is 24 and probably not far off the maximum of what he can be, and while he has some decent skills, there’s not a lot of upside there, I don’t think. Egbunike, at 29, might develop into a domestic contender of sorts, but he’s a little old, prospect-wise.
Anthony Yigit PTS-8 Siar Ozgul
Former Olympian and European titleholder Yigit goes to 24-1-1 (8 KO) with a decent win, his third straight after his 2018 loss to Ivan Baranchyk. The Swede is hoping to get back into world title fights, saying he’d like to fight Josh Taylor after Taylor beats Regis Prograis (Yigit’s prediction). Neither Yigit nor Ozgul (15-4, 3 KO) were very accurate here, but it was a spirited eight rounds, never dull.