Wallace exits corner for centre stage in title pursuit

Murray Wenzel |

Conor Wallace wants to let his fists do the talking and is determined to reach the pinnacle.
Conor Wallace wants to let his fists do the talking and is determined to reach the pinnacle.

Conor Wallace’s hands tell the story.

Surgery on both has left them scarred, one of his wrists unable to bend when he shapes up as if to throw a punch.

The 27-year-old Brisbane-based Irish light heavyweight has endured pain in both of those weapons for the last three years.

But ahead of a crucial December 20 fight he is confident that’s all behind him.

It’s been almost six years since the veteran of 175 amateur fights in Ireland opted to follow the path of Dennis Hogan to Brisbane with his sights set on a professional career.

Like Hogan, Wallace has been taken under the wing of Fortitude Boxing Gym owner and long-time manager Steve Deller.

He’s now 11-1, ranked inside the top 15 of all four world-recognised organisations and potentially three fights away from becoming a world champion.

“I’m climbing, but I didn’t come this far just to come this far, you know,” Wallace told AAP ahead of the clash with New Zealand’s Mose Auimatagi at the Fortitude Music Hall.

“Every fight for me now is a world title fight.

“There’s no room for error and that’s the beauty of it.”

Wallace’s only loss came in a 2021, a points decision in a 10-round war with Leti Leti.

He avenged that defeat last year despite breaking his right hand during the fight and resorting to unconventional methods.

“I knocked him out with a hook, caught him with these two,” Wallace said, pointing to what were the lesser-damaged outside knuckles of his right hand.

“It was just absolute pain … but I wasn’t throwing in the towel, had to show something.

“My last fight (a first-round knockout of Mat Sheehan in July) was the first time I have been pain free.

“It makes a difference, having both hands.”

Wallace has no shortage of inspiration.

He was on the undercard when Tasman Fighters stablemate and friend Jai Opetaia broke his jaw twice and won a world title.

wallace
A young Conor Wallace (third left) in Conor McGregor’s corner after his UFC rematch with Nate Diaz. (HANDOUT/CONOR WALLACE)

A 20-year-old Wallace also spent two months in camp with countryman Conor McGregor ahead of his successful 2016 UFC rematch with Nate Diaz.

He was in the Irishman’s corner on the night and had to blink twice when some famous friends popped in to wish their mate good luck.

“Kanye West and Cristiano Ronaldo came in, it was mad.

“Pretty surreal, but great and I still keep in contact with Conor.

“It was great to see what it’s like at the top level, it made me hungry for those bright lights.”

His camp have plans for a headline act on St Patrick’s Day next year that could put him two wins away from a world title.

But Wallace isn’t looking any further ahead than Auimatagi (16-3), except perhaps the beer afterwards.

“I like a drink as much as anyone,” he smirked.

“What you see is what you get, but you’ll do well to outwork me.

“I’ll have my fun, but be the hardest trainer in the gym as well.”

CONOR WALLACE LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT WORLD RANKING

* WBO – 12th (champion is Artur Beterbiev)

* IBF – 11th (Beterbiev)

* WBC – 12th (Beterbiev)

* WBA – 9th – (Dmitry Bivol)

AAP