Champion meets champion this weekend at BAMMA 25 as bantamweight champ Shay Walsh puts his belt on the line against featherweight belt-holder Tom ‘Fire Kid’ Duquesnoy.
“I wouldn’t say there’s more pressure but there’s definitely more hype, you can see that already,” Walsh told FO. “It’s no extra pressure for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform no matter where I’m fighting, but it’s just good to be rewarded with more exposure.”
“The card’s stacked with some massive names and really interesting fights. I think me and Tom have got a good reputation and are worthy of headlining the card,” he added.
Duquesnoy earned himself a shot at Walsh’s 135lb title off the back of a win in his weight class debut. But despite looking good, the defending champ is doubtful his French opponent will be able to match his pace as the more experienced bantamweight.
“He’s only had one fight previously in the weight division,” said Walsh. “It was a very impressive performance but we didn’t get to see much of how he handled the weight cut. He missed weight on the scale the first time and had to come back an hour later.
“When I dropped to bantamweight I already did a test cut and made sure I would be comfortable at that weight, and be able to perform the next day. Now I’ve had a few fights at this weight that have gone into the later rounds, I’m confident I can make the weight first time and stick to a high pace, and put a good pace on him. I think that’s still going to be a question in his mind. He doesn’t know for sure if he can do that or not, and he might find out the hard way getting dragged into deep waters with me.”
Some might argue that Duquesnoy’s biggest advantage in this fight will be his experience beating bigger, stronger opponents, but Walsh is quick to remind people that he himself also has experience at 145lb and doesn’t see Tom besting him where others have failed.
He explained: “I fought most of my career as a featherweight and against some big guys for that weight category. Tom’s frame is of a bantamweight. It’s a testament to his skills how well he’s been doing at featherweight, but I’ve never been overpowered at featherweight and I’m not expecting him to be able to do it.”
If Duquesnoy is able to defeat Walsh, he will become BAMMA’s first dual-weight champion, whereas Walsh will remain champ of only one weight class with a successful title defense. However, with a win on Saturday, the defending champ will consider himself the best of both weight classes.
“Even though I won’t officially hold the two belts after this fight, I will have just beaten the featherweight champion and I’ll be the defending bantamweight champion. Even though I don’t officially have that belt on my shoulder I’ll pretty much solidify myself, in my mind, as a two-weight champion.”
BAMMA 25 takes place Saturday May 14th at Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, England.