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Nico Ali Walsh, the grandson of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, will make his professional fighting career Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And while the 21-year-old is aware of the clout his name holds, he says he’s boxing for himself — not for fame, or a fighter’s bag.
Ali Walsh’s mother, Rashida, is the daughter of one of the greatest boxers of all time. Having said that, there was no pressure on Ali Walsh to take his grandfather’s gloves, ESPN reported. His mother would have suggested other sports instead—football or basketball, “like a normal kid,” she recalls. But Ali Walsh wouldn’t have had it. Therefore, seven years ago, he began training in earnest.
Although early in his middleweight career, it was a bumpy road for Ali Walsh. He won some fights, and lost some, according to ESPN. But his grandfather “Poppy” Ali Walsh told him that his amateur record didn’t matter. And when the young fighter occasionally doubted himself, Bobby was there to encourage him to stay in the fight.
Now, Jordan Weeks, 29, will face off at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in a four-round private battle of attraction. The main event, at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN, could be the third match between Andrew Moloney and Joshua Franco IIIBut Ali Walsh’s first fight is already causing a stir in the boxing community.
The promoter for the fight is Bob Arum, who first promoted Ali in a world heavyweight boxer fight against George Chuvalo in 1966. “It still feels surreal to me more than 50 years after I started promoting The Greatest, my grandson [Ali Walsh] Turns our pro [Top Rank Boxing] Saturday Night Show,” I chirp. “A real proud moment for me.”
Ali Walsh’s coach, Sugar Hill Steward, coaches two-time world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Steward sees hope in the “apprentice” fighter. “He can fight back,” he told ESPN.
“He’s not afraid,” said Steward. “He’s not shy about being hit or thrown. It’s just a matter of him learning to fight better.”
Ali’s name legacy may weigh heavily on the young fighter’s shoulders, but Ali Walsh doesn’t expect pressure to be an issue. He doesn’t care who he thinks is fighting for “name or fame”. He said in a first-class promotional video. He said his boxing career is all about proving something to himself and his family.
“I feel like success doesn’t mean going 30-0, it doesn’t mean going 50-0, I think it’s a feeling,” he said. “At some point, I’ll know I felt like I’ve carried on that legacy right. At that point, I’ll know I’ve had a successful boxing career.”