By John J. Raspanti
At 22, Gervonta “Tank” Davis is the youngest American champion in professional boxing. He’s flashy and powerful. He grew-up on the mean streets of Baltimore, MD. His promoter just happens to be Floyd Mayweather, who plucked him out of obscurity two years ago.
Liam “Destiny” Walsh is older, a wily veteran compared to Davis. He’s low key and modest. His support comes from his brothers - who also box. Walsh tools around Cromer, a coastal town near Norfolk, England, in a beat up old Volkswagen.
Davis started knocking out people in 2013. His power came naturally. In only his seventeenth fight four months ago, he brutalized the favored Jose Pedreza to capture the IBF super-featherweight title. The knockout victory gave him 16 stoppages in his young career, his eighth in succession.
Walsh (21-0, 14 KOs) has held the Commonwealth super featherweight belt since 2010. He picked up the British two years ago by handily defeating Gary Sykes. He’s undefeated in 21 bouts. He earned a crack at the title by winning a unanimous decision over Andrey Klimov last October.
The venue is Copper Box Arena in London, England. Davis will be fighting on the road for the first time in his young career. Walsh will benefit from a sellout crowd cheering his every move.
Davis is not concerned.
“I believe it was the right business move as far as getting me to the UK in my early career and giving the fans what they want to see,” he said during an international media conference called last Wednesday. I’m actually excited to fight in the UK. I have a lot of UK fans after the [Jose] Pedraza fight, so I think it’s a good change.”
Walsh, though happy to be fighting at home, isn’t sure what advantage that gives him.
"I thank Frank Warren for that and giving me that advantage,” Walsh said. “I think it all depends on his mental capacity. He’s coming to a foreign country. Provided that he adapts to the environment and change of scenery, then we’ll find out that night.”
Will Walsh be the best fighter Davis has faced so far?
“I believe so,” said Davis. “I’ve fought a world champion. He’s undefeated. I don’t know, I have to see when I get in there. On paper he might seem like a tough opponent. I won’t know until I get in there and see what he brings to the table.”
Walsh, who turns 31 in a few days, was impressed by the way Davis dismantled Pedraza to win the championship. He had figured that the taller Pedraza would the fight on points. Walsh plans on exploiting his opponent’s flaws.
“I think there are still a lot of questions to be asked of him,” said Walsh. “I feel like I’ve been in tougher fights than him. I feel like I’ve been in longer fights. I think I have a better boxing IQ than him. He’s very powerful, very physical and very fast, but we haven’t seen him in a long fight or a dog fight or a grueling fight though.”
Walsh is a capable fighter. His herky-jerky style could give Davis fits. He’s quick and fires stinging punches.
Davis though appears to be the more talented fighter. His body-shots could slow down the nimble Walsh. I see a competitive fight for a few rounds—with Davis’ ability to hurt Walsh being the major difference.