A Lancaster mixed martial arts star is eyeing big fight nights in America as he prepares to battle for a British title.
Shay Walsh goes into the cage for the Olympian Mixed Martial Arts Championship (OMMAC) featherweight belt at the Liverpool Olympia on Saturday, June 1.
And the 24-year-old sees the clash with Sunderland’s Andrew Fisher as an opportunity to catapult himself towards the top of the sport.
The former Lancaster and Morecambe College student said: “This is a massive fight for me, definitely my biggest one to date.
“It’s for a British title that guys who have held it in the past have gone on to fight on the big shows in America.
“That’s the goal eventually but it’s not like you win this fight and you get a contract.
“I’ve just got to keep plugging away and get the right fights and keep winning against the high-ranked opponents and hopefully I’m going to get recognised and picked up for a big show.
“It’s a great opportunity for me.”
Walsh set up the title fight with a victory by way of unanimous decision against highly-rated Scottish fighter John Cullen in March.
And he knows the match against Fisher, which will be broadcast on Loaded TV, Sky Channel 200, will be tough.
He said: “He’s another tough opponent.
“Most of his fights have been at a higher weight category, he’s just recently come down to featherweight and is undefeated at this weight.
“It’s very tough test, he’s well rounded, a big strong guy.
“It’s being broadcast on the Friday night after the fight at 9pm which is a good time, prime time. It should get it out to a lot of people.
“It’s good exposure for me and mixed martial arts.”
The 12th-ranked British featherweight, with 10 wins and two defeats to his names as a pro, is getting a helping hand from Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Brad Pickett ahead of the fight.
Pickett, known as “One Punch”, held a training seminar at Salt Ayre sports centre on Sunday and is the fifth-ranked bantamweight in the world’s biggest MMA organisation.
Walsh said: “I trained with him in London a few weeks ago and now he’s coming up to stay with me for a few days.
“He’s someone I look up to.
“He’s done a similar sort of thing, started on the domestic circuit, and then moved onto big shows.”
Walsh, who already holds Birmingham promotion Sprawl and Brawl’s version of the British title, has two to three sessions a day, six days a week, with trainer and brother Sergio at Lancaster and Morecambe MMA on the Lune Industrial Edtate, St George’s Quay.
The former Hornby High School pupil credits his elder sibling as the reason he’s in the sport.
He said: “I got into it through Sergio and this club has been running, although quite quietly, for 10 or 11 years now.
“When I was 15 he asked me come down to see if I enjoyed it and it’s just progressed from there.
“I carried on with the training and then as I got better I wanted to compete.
“I went from just grappling at first to amateur MMA, semi-professional MMA, and now I’m fighting as a pro and for British titles.”
Walsh is aiming to follow in the footsteps of fellow Lancaster and Morecambe MMA figthter Alex Makhonin, who retired as the reigning OMMAC Middleweight champion back in March.
For tickets call 01524 380134, visit Shay’s Facebook page or tweet @ShayWalshMMA.
A coach will be running from Dalton Square.