ALAN HUBBARD’S PUNCHLINES – 13.3.17
It was a real pleasure to be at the media conference in the packed Abraham Lincoln room at London’s swank Savoy Hotel last week where it was confirmed that boxing’s dynamic young slugger Gervonta Davis is to defend his newly-acquired IBF world super-featherweight title against redoubtable British battler Liam Walsh at the Copper Box in the Olympic Park on May 20.
No-one threw a wobbly – even less a table – or threatened to crack open his opponent’s skull or otherwise hospitalise him; no-one cursed or spat out odious invectives in the name of manufactured ticket-selling hype; nor was there a four-letter word uttered though seven-letter one was clearly evident: Respect.
It was all conducted with decency and decorum. Just two immensely talented young men, both undefeated, knowing that some ten weeks hence they would be attempting to belt bits off each other but declining to brag about it. How refreshing it all was.
Ok, so Floyd Mayweather jnr, promoter and mentor of 22-year-old Davis kept us waiting – but then he always does.
But the Money Man’s eventual majestic presence added both lustre and gravitas to the occasion and we left with the gut feeling that this will be some night -and some fight!
Mayweather’s man certainly has the wow factor. Floyd reckons he is boxing’s next superstar and there is no doubt the boy from Baltimore whose seventh round right-hand piledriver brutally separated Jose Pedraza from his senses -and his title- in New York a couple of months back has one of the most absorbing ghetto-to-greatness stories in boxing.
Plucked from obscurity by Mayweather after just 10 professional fights and now currently the youngest world champion seven fights later at the age of just 22, he had the most harrowing of childhoods in Baltimore.
Indeed, the first instalment of the hit-television series ‘The Wire’ was based around the projects where Davis grew up in a neighbourhood riddled with copious drugs and gangland murders.
“It was like they say, like The Wire, or a little bit worse,” the softly–spoken Davis told us. “It was really hard, growing up in Baltimore. There as a lot of killing and things like that. A lot of distractions: it was ‘I’m in the gym or I’m in the streets’, and I chose the gym.
“Right now it’s a little bad but they’re locking down on major killings and bad people in Baltimore. I was supposed to be in The Wire but I was getting in trouble in school and on the streets.”
He added: “When I was a young kid my mother and father were on drugs. My mother used to leave me and my brother in the house by ourselves. The authorities came and got us. It took a year or two to get us back with my grandmother.”
“Baltimore – man, it made me the man I am today,” he says. “It could have made me or killed me, but I’m here, in the UK, making another step for greatness.”
Davis, whose 16 stoppages from 17 professional wins have ensured his emergence as one of the world’s finest young prospects, is a more aggressive front-foot fighter than his illustrious promoter.
“I always said if ever there was anybody I would sign for, it was Floyd Mayweather. Two or three years later it happened.”
“Gervonta Davis is very talented,” says Mayweather. “A fighter who had 10 fights, never seen on TV. As soon as I saw him walk in the room I said, ‘He’s going to be world champion’. I got him six fights and within 24 months he’s world champion. He has the potential to be the closest thing to Floyd Mayweather.”
Praise indeed from the fight game’s Caesar.
Davis reveals he has long been studying Walsh.
“I knew he was mandatory for Pedraza. I also watched a few of his fights, so I knew that he was a great fighter.
Meanwhile the 30-year-old Walsh, one of three brothers who box professionally, the mandatory challenger and unbeaten in 21 contests, accepts he will be the underdog.
But underdogs are not only barking loudly in sport these days – but biting too.
In boxing you need look no further than Haye v Bellew for that.
“I’m more than confident I’ll win the fight,” Walsh said. “I’ve got to be smart that’s for sure. I’ve got to do the right job. I’ve watched a lot of his fights already. I’ll adapt on the job round by round as I go. Good fighters have to adapt.
Frank Warren, Walsh’s promoter, says the match up reminds him of Joe Calzaghe against Jeff Lacy. “The Americans were saying that Lacey was “the next Mike Tyson”, but Joe have him a masterclass in boxing on a memorable night in Manchester. Liam is a very fine boxer, and I believe he can do the same as Calzaghe did ten years ago.”
Here’s hoping. I have a hunch this TV coup for BoxNation and BT wlll go right down to The Wire…
No desert storm for Khan
So Amir Khan won’t be fighting Manny Pacquiao for multi-millions of dollars in some desert sheikhdom after all. No surprise there then.
There is always talk of Middle Eastern riches for such mega-fight but they never seem to materialise. The phrase money and mouths come to mind.
Now the multi-million dollar question for Khan is when he will actually fight again- and against whom? And where? Maybe Bolton can offer richer pickings than Bahrain.
Haye’s hard road back
The Achilles injury that left David Haye fighting so courageously on one leg against Tony Bellew in London last weekend, in normal circumstances, would place a huge question mark over the future career prospects of a 36-year-old fighter.
Haye, however, has got that something about him and if he says he is convinced he will be in good enough nick to make another ring return, you tend to believe him.
Haye will come again but he has a hard road ahead of him as rehabilitation from serious injury is a painstaking and lengthy process. Ask any athlete or footballer who has suffered a similar injury and operation and they will tell you it can take at least six months or more before you can start training again.
And for a boxer having the right mobility, balance and foot movement in the ring is absolutely crucial.
Somewhat ironic that the main talking points about Haye’s defeats in major fights have been heel and toe rather than touch and go…
Leonard Ellerbe (@LEllerbe)
Just read @frankwarren_tv column, his kid is a very good fighter and I know he’s tough, but @Gervontaa is going to put on a spectacular show
I’ve moved on from the dark &scary place I’ve been living & if I can beat depression then I can beat anything!
The hardest fight of my life
Talk about being a fat man, I’m 25stones or 350lbs, but getting the weight off has never been a problem! Ask @peterfury we done it 24 times.
I’m starting a fresh start, letting go of the past & concentrating on the future, got to keep moving forwards
They said what?…
Don’t think about the money. Do it for the love of the sport.
Curious advice to aspiring young fighters from Floyd Mayweather jnr aka The Money Man.
This is a cracking fight. A real fight – one the fans will want to see.
Liam Walsh is clearly looking forward to getting to grips with Gervonta Davis.
This is a real 50-50 fight. Liam Smith knows his distance and works inside very well. He’s the rightful favourite going in. He’s operated at a higher level and has more fights, more experience.“But if ‘Beefy’ underestimates Liam Williams in any way, he’s likely to come unstuck. That Welsh boy is a very dangerous fighter, on a good run, brimming with confidence. He’s got an excellent coach in Gary Lockett and they’re sure to come up with a top game plan. Seriously, if you gave me a pound to bet, I’d put 50p on both of them!
Billy Joe Saunders hedges his bets on the outcome.
If you are not a killer in this game you get eaten alive.
Eyebrow-raising fistic philosophy from Anthony Joshua.
Why is it sexist to say I don’t like women punching each other?
TV presenter Piers Morgan begs the question of Nicola Adams during his his Good Morning Britain TV chat with Frank Warren’s star capture.
I’m not the biggest fan of curling. For me its not fun to watch. I guess for you, you just don’t like women’s boxng but I don’t think you’re sexist
A gentle riposte from Nicola Adams, who also adds: If I can change Frank Warren’s mind I’m sure I can change anyone’s mind! It’s been really good working with him. I get on well with Frank and he’s a nice guy. We’ve been talking about the strategy moving forward and we really want to take women’s professional boxing to the next level.
You will never see me with a pair of gloves on again, not even to spar. If you do, please twat me over the head with a chair.
Derry Matthews makes it clear that he has quit he ring after losing to Ohara Davies.
Just before the stoppage I looked at David and said ‘stop now’. He shook his head. He went beyond the call of duty.
Tribute to the Hayemaker’s bottle from Tony Bellew.
Coming up next: The Big Interview with Liam Walsh