September 28, 2003
Life has dealt David Walker far harsher blows than he has ever received in the ring. The Kent light-middleweight known as 'Kid Dynamite' is invariably involved in fights of thrilling intensity. But once the spotlight fades, he quietly returns to the Sidcup home he shares with his mother Jo, a victim of multiple sclerosis.
"Looking after mum takes up most of my spare time," said Walker, whose European title clash with Russia's Roman Karmazin at London's Alexandra Palace on Saturday will be screened live by the BBC.
"It's a terrible disease which, please God, they find a cure for one day. My two brothers and I do our best, but over the last 10 years we've had to watch her grow worse by the day."
Walker has been particularly close to his mother since his father committed suicide soon after his eldest son took up boxing. Walker is now 27, but said: "It was two weeks before my 14th birthday," he says softly. "Dad always supported me. Always went to all my junior contests. I still miss not having him around."
With such a background, it is no wonder Walker is taking Saturday's clash in his stride even if popular wisdom suggests he has no business sharing the same ring as the fearsome Karmazin. Billed as Made in Hell, the man from St Petersburg was last year being primed for a crack at Oscar de la Hoya. Given Walker's remorseless come-forward style, the challenger seemingly risks serious injury. "I believe I'm going to win," Walker said. "I cannot say when, but I see myself knocking him out in the later rounds. If everyone gets behind me I can rip that title away from him."
The portents are not good. A 'hit-or-be-hit' merchant, he twice had to pick himself up off the canvas before beating Spencer Fearon in July, and that was only at Southern Area title level. In contrast, Karmazin is a big-punching world-class operator whose sole defeat came against former World Boxing Council champion Javier Castillejo.
The challenger can at least draw upon the experience of trainer Robert McCracken. McCracken, the former Commonwealth middleweight champion, is a cool customer although some of Walker's contests might have been a little too exciting even for someone of his phlegmatic nature. "When things get tough in there I tend to let my heart rule my head," said Walker, who has lost just once in 21 outings.
"I'm raring to go," he said. "It's a great fight at a prestigious venue, live on prime-time terrestrial telly. My one regret is that my dad won't be there, although I know he'll be watching over me."
Thirteen years ago a Buster Douglas weighed down by personal crisis
managed the performance of a lifetime to beat Mike Tyson in Tokyo. Maybe,
just maybe, Walker has it in him to produce something spectacular on Saturday.
Copyright © 2003, Telegraph Group Limited