Publish Date: 08/31/2022
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
Living in a larger-than-life shadow, Nico Ali Walsh charts his boxing future. Check out the top boxing betting strategies.
I groaned when I heard Nico Ali Walsh would be making his professional debut on ESPN.
The groan had nothing to do with Ali Walsh – but everything to do with the method ESPN was employing to promote the young fighter.
Their resident commentator had decided to join Ali Walsh and his legendary grandfather at the hip. He did this so many times he might as well have added a hyphen to Ali Walsh’s last name.
It was outrageous and over-the-top.
Did I watch the kid’s first fight?
Yes, with the sound down.
Did I smile when he stopped Jordan Weeks in the first round? Of course.
Even with the excessive name-dropping and such, it was nice to see a Ali victorious.
There are so many memories.
Ali Walsh’s grandfather was an international superstar. Nobody now or then could touch him. His legacy is secure, in and out of the ring. Growing up when he ruled the heavyweights was crazy, wild, astonishing, and heartbreaking. If you loved the man, as I did, his last few fights were beyond painful. It wasn’t supposed to end that way for “The Greatest.”
When he was young, he said it wouldn’t, but it did.
His impact and popularity grew as his body began to deteriorate. Even death couldn’t keep him down.
Muhammad Ali’s life light is as bright as ever.
What was Ali Walsh trying to prove? How do you fight in the shadows of a grandfather who happened to be a legend?
Ali Walsh, a middleweight, uses pressure and expectations to motivate himself.
“It (the pressure) gives me purpose,” Ali Walsh told fight-library.com. “It doesn’t give me any additional pressure to live up to somebody. I think it actually helps; it does the opposite of what people think. There’s a great quote that went along the lines of, ‘The brightest lights cast the darkest shadows.’ That’s something that I basically live by. I’m in the shadow of my grandfather. It seems like the whole boxing world is in the shadow of my grandfather, but that is because he was the brightest light. It’s a hard shadow to get out of. Once you embrace it, it’s something I’m proud of now. It’s powerful to me to be fighting for that legacy.”
I didn’t see his next few fights. I had decided, likely because of ESPN’s gratuitous marketing, that Ali Walsh was nothing more than a hook to grab higher ratings.
Cynical, but Ali Walsh didn’t seem to mind.
He was in it all the way, exploiting himself.
But the big question lingered. Could Ali Walsh fight?
Five bouts into his career, the jury was way out. He was getting hit too much. He made rookie mistakes. He didn’t have many amateur bouts, so that would figure.
I decided to watch his rematch against Reyes Sanchez last weekend. Ali Walsh entered the fight undefeated in five bouts, scoring four knockouts.
The first Sanchez fight had been close.
Ali Walsh won the fight by majority decision.
Some shook their heads.
Another troubling aspect was he was now working with his third trainer.
Before his fight with Sanchez, Hall of Famer Andre Ward commented.
“Not normal, but he’s not a normal case,” said Ward. “He’s trying to find his way around, but I think this needs to be the last stop. Too many coaches, too many voices.”
Ali Walsh bounced out of his corner. His first three punches were jabs. He worked up and down and clipped Sanchez with an inside right to the jaw. He made a mistake by pulling straight back. Sanchez made him pay with a combination. Ali Walsh fired a one-two.
In round two, Ali Walsh got caught by a couple of right hands. He jabbed and moved. He dug to the body. With 24 seconds remaining in the heat, Ali Walsh landed three consecutive body shots. The last one was a perfect live punch.
Sanchez paused and went down.
He didn’t beat the count.
“This was a special win because it was a rematch,” said Ali Walsh in the ring. “It’s everything I’ve been working towards. My hard work is now showing in the ring. I want everyone to see that it’s a new me.”
He’s still new in many ways. Six fights don’t prove anything, but I did see some improvement. Check out the top boxing betting tips.
That’s something to build on.
I can’t help but think that wherever he is, his grandfather is smiling.