“It’s really on his shoulders, carrying on the legacy of the greatest fighter of all time, but if anybody can handle it, I think this kid can handle it,” Bob Arum on Nico Ali Walsh.
Last night, boxing on the undercard of the Joshua Franco-Jason Moloney rematch fight, 21-year-old middleweight Nico Ali Walsh made his pro debut. Nico is the grandson of the incomparable Muhammad Ali. Ali Walsh stopped Jordan Weeks in the first round, scoring two knockdowns. The young Ali who, as his promoter, Bob Arum has stated, has an enormous legacy to try and carry on, is now on his way. Trained by Sugarhill, Nico has a great team around him. And he has the biggest last name in the history of boxing.
Some interesting things Ali Walsh said when speaking with Sky Sports shortly before his first pro fight:
On Ali and Joe Frazier:
“People think he doesn’t like Joe Frazier, “Ali Walsh said. “I don’t know why that immediately comes to mind. He loved Frazier like a brother. People may have seen that wrongly. He was annoying to Frazier with the stuff he would say. It was just to sell fights. He loved Frazier.”
On the pressure:
“The pressure is not upholding the legacy of the greatest fighter of all time,” Ali Walsh said. “The pressure is of continuing the legacy of my grandfather, someone so important to me, who was the patriarch of my family.”
On watching fights with Ali:
“I would ask him tips on my sparring. I would show him my training footage. He gave me tips. But, for the most part, we would watch his highlights. He loved watching himself and he loved watching me. It was fun watching his highlights with him. I wasn’t alive to see him box. I’ve heard stories. I’m watching with my grandfather – they feel like two different people. I see them as two different people. It was fun watching that young, brash kid with the old man.”
On is he’d have been a boxer if he wasn’t Muhammad Ali’s grandson:
“I wouldn’t say I knew this would happen. I wouldn’t call it a goal. It’s a dream. As a kid I would dream of this, never thinking it could be reality. I don’t know if I would be into boxing without my grandfather, I truly don’t know. But I feel drawn to boxing.”
How far can Ali Walsh go? Expectations are enormous and it’s going to be one heck of a ride watching the new Ali attempt the impossible.