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Josh Wale warms up for European title shot in home town

Josh Wale
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'I’ve given my life to boxing. Sometimes you get your wish.' Josh Wale fights in Barnsley this Saturday. He speaks to Matt Bevan

JOSH WALE will fight in front of his Barnsley faithful for the first time in four years, as he prepares for the biggest fight of his career on October 26, when he will challenge Georges Ory for the vacant European bantamweight title in France.

For Wale, it will crown an unforgettable two years, which has has seen him achieve his childhood dream and win the British title and fulfil a promise he made his father. “The Outlaw” subsequently defended the Lonsdale belt twice, before relinquishing it through injury earlier this year.

The 30-year-old was due to take on Toto Helebhe for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title, however that was nixed due to visa issues. It appeared the hometown opportunity Wale craved was dead in the water, until the European title shot was confirmed.

Wale told Boxing News: “I’ve really wanted a fight in Barnsley for a long time, as I’ve nearly always been the away fighter, so I rarely get to give my supporters a night where they don’t have to travel. They deserve this as much as me because they’ve given so much by supporting me everywhere.

“It’s not the fight we originally were preparing for and I was worried that the chance was gone. But, Stefy Bull came through for me as he always does and secured me a fight for the European title later this month, which gives me the chance to get a good few rounds before we head out to France.

“I haven’t boxed since February because of the knee injury, so I can get rid of some ring rust and I’ll be in much better shape all around for the 26. I’ve achieved that dream of winning the British title, so everything that happens is a bonus from now on.”

Wale’s promoter and trainer Bull explained the situation to Boxing News and revealed how the pieces fell into place. He, along with his fighter, remains totally unfazed at the prospect of travelling to France for the fight with Ory, as he has previous experience of a very similar trip.

Bull was a part of the team who made an almost identical trip across the Channel back in 2010 when Jamie McDonnell claimed the same belt that Wale is now chasing from Jerome Arnould, stopping the French fighter in the 10th despite being a 3-1 underdog.

Bull explained: “Everything happens for a reason and it shows how quickly things can change. I found out on the Friday that Helebhe had been denied a visa and then after a long weekend, I got the news that Lee Haskins had pulled out of the European title fight in favour of an eliminator in the Philippines.

“Josh was the mandatory for the title, so we got the deal agreed quickly and steered away from the heartbreak there could have been. We were excited for the chance to fight for the IBF belt, but it’s a no brainer to fight for the European, so we’re probably better off now than we were in the first place.

“I’ve got previous in France and from what we’ve seen and heard, Ory was a top amateur, but he hasn’t shown anything as a pro. He’s got two defeats, but they’re putting some money behind him for this, so someone clearly backs him. But as a team, we are totally unfazed and after all, it doesn’t matter where you are, a ring is a ring.”

Wale added that Ory and his team may have only really agreed to the fight after a glance at his record. The record shows nine defeats and no fights abroad, however Wale believes that they are walking into a trap, if that is what has drawn them towards the clash with the Barnsley man.

“The Outlaw” insisted that he is the best form of his life and it is impossible to argue with his claims. Since a loss to Gamal Yafai back in 2016, before he joined forces with Bull, Wale has rattled off six straight wins that included two defences of the British title and Wale admits he never imagined it would happen to him.

“Ory is being pushed in France for a reason, but the biggest mistake they could have made is looking at my record. I’ve been fighting at this level for the past 10 years, since I fought Matthew Marsh. Seven of my previous losses have gone on to fight for a version of the world title and I fought all over the world in the amateurs. I’m not in the least bit fazed by going over to fight in France in his backyard.

“I’ve got to pinch myself because this past two years or so have been crazy. I never thought it would actually happen. I go back to the controversial draw with Gavin McDonnell and I remembering wondering if it was ever going to happen for me, so I’m incredibly happy that it has worked out.

“I’ve sold out the Metrodome in my hometown and I’ve even got the local club backing me, which is amazing. It’s been like a fairy tale and at this point, like I said, everything is a bonus. It’s been a long, hard slog and I’ve fulfilled my dream by giving that British title to my dad. I still want it outright and only need one more win to do that, but the European title is my focus now.

“I’ve given my life to boxing. I’ve never been one for partying or things like that. Sometimes you get your wish, when you least expect it and beating Ory will be massive. I can beat anyone on my day and on October 27, I’ll be on my way back to Barnsley with the European title around my waist.”

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