By Paul Mason (@KOBoxingSets)
In a highly anticipated contest, This Saturday (20th May) American Gervonta Davis (17-0, KO16) travels to his challenger’s home country to make the first defence of his IBF Super Featherweight Title. In the opposite corner will be the likeable family man with the big fan base in Cromer’s Liam Walsh (21-0, KO14), who challenges for a version of the World Title for the very first time in his 22ndfight. The Copperbox Arena in London is the venue, with Frank Warren promoting and BT Sport and Boxnation televising live in the UK.
22 year old Baltimore, Maryland native Davis, comes to London on the crest of a wave. The Floyd Mayweather managed fighter turned in a career best performance last time out, in stopping the previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza in seven rounds to lift the IBF Super Featherweight Title on the Badou Jack v James DeGale bill in January.
Davis had a very successful amateur career, winning many national championships. He won the 2012 National Golden GlovesChampionship, three straight National Silver Gloves Championships from 2006–2008, two National Junior Olympics gold medals, two National Police Athletic LeagueChampionships, and two Ringside World Championships, among other accolades. Davis finished his illustrious amateur career with a reported record of 206–15. He made his professional debut aged 18 in February 2013 against Desi Williams in Washington. Davis triumphed with a first round knockout. His first three fights were against opponents with a combined record of 0-4, and that 0-4 record belonged to Williams.
After eight straight wins, he finally met an opponent with a winning record in German Meraz, winning unanimously over six, and knocking Meraz down in both rounds three and five. Israel Suarez, Alberton Mora and Recky Dulay were then all stopped in the first round, before Davis stopped Christobal Cruz in three in October 2015. Luis Sanchez was next, and lasted into the ninth round of a scheduled ten, but was down in both rounds eight and nine, and then stopped. Guillermo Avila was stopped in six, and in June 2016, a one round blowout of Mario Antonio Macias set up a showdown with Pedraza for January this year.
Davis was almost punch perfect against Pedraza, effortlessly handling the step-up to world title level and ripped the belt away from the previously unbeaten Puerto Rican, and he comes to London in good form and with masses of self-confidence that comes with being a Mayweather fighter.
Liam Walsh comes from fighting stock. His brothers Michael (11-0) and Ryan (21-2-1) turned professional on the same show alongside Liam at the Excel, London in February 2008, and they are fiercely close, even living on the same plot of land. Liam defeated tough journeyman Daniel Thorpe on debut via first round knockout. His first nine fights featured wins over the usual journeymen in Johnny Greaves (KO4) Youssef Al Hamidi (PTS 4) Sid Razak (TKO4) and Ibrar Riyaz (TKO1) to name a few.
In his tenth fight he was matched with Ghanaian, Maxwell Awuku for the vacant Commonwealth Super Featherweight Title. Walsh won handily on the cards unanimously win his first professional crown. He defended this against useful operator John Kays (KO10) and then kicked off the Boxnation era in style, headlining the first ever show for the channel defending against Paul Appleby. In a barnstorming fight, where both men were down, Walsh ended matters when Appleby’s corner threw in the towel in the tenth round. Walsh returned ten months later, picking up the WBO European Title at Lightweight, stopping Domenico Urbano in eight on the big Haye v Chisora bill at Upton Park in July 2012. A faded Scott Harrison was then outpointed over ten, and Joe Murray was beaten by majority decision in September 2013.
Kevin Hooper was knocked out in four and Walsh then picked up the British Super Featherweight title, outpointing Gary Sykes in London. A rematch with Murray followed, where this time Walsh left no doubt, stopping Murray in the fifth in defence of both British and Commonwealth straps. Walsh picked up the vacant WBO Intercontinental title at Lightweight next, knocking out Isaias Santos Sampaio with a left to the body, before he returned to Super Feather to stop Troy James in eight in defence of his British Title. In Walsh’s last fight, he fought an eliminator for the title he contests this weekend. He knocked down Andrey Klimov in the sixth before dominating the contest, winning every round on all bar one of the judges’ cards.
If I’m pushed to pick a winner in this one, I would lean towards Davis slightly. This is only going off his last win being so spectacular, although Walsh too was impressive in dismantling Klimov. I can see it being a close quarters fight, with the American winning maybe by split decision by the odd round, but if Walsh could pull it off it would be a great win for British boxing.
The undercard sees brother Ryan Walsh (21-2-1, KO10), coming off a split decision loss for the European title against Dennis Ceylan, defending his British Featherweight Title, against Belfast’s Marco McCullough (17-3, KO10).
Anthony Yarde (10-0, KO9) has his first title bout in a ten rounder for the Southern Area Light Heavyweight Title against Southampton’s Chris Hobbs (6-1-1).
Joe Pigford (12-0, KO11) meets Aarron Morgan (12-0, KO8) in a battle of unbeaten fighters at Super Welterweight.
Daniel Dubois, Sanjeev Sahota, Boy Jones and Mitchell Smith also feature on a busy card.
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