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Keyshawn Davis will face Jose Zaragoza feeling ready to start anew

Keyshawn Davis. Photo courtesy of Keyshawn Davis on Twitter
08
Dec

Following his run to an Olympic silver medal in Tokyo this past summer, lightweight prospect Keyshawn Davis returns to the pro boxing ring on Saturday night feeling like he is turning pro all over again.

“I do feel like it’s another pro debut for me to be honest with you,” Davis told The Ring. “I feel like coming off the Olympic run this is going to be like Keyshawn reincarnated.”

He is already 3-0, with two knockouts, but with professionals allowed to compete in the past two Olympics, Davis took USA Boxing up on its offer to join the team. He had earned the requisite points to be eligible to compete in Tokyo and accepted the offer on the eve of his third professional fight on the Canelo Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders undercard on May 8.

Davis kept it quiet, but inside he was excited to be going to the Olympics even as he won a six-round shutout decision against Jose Antonio Meza.

“I was fighting my pro fight and I was thinking about going to the Olympics,” he said. “It was crazy.”

In fact, two of Davis’ first three fights were on Canelo undercards; he turned pro in February on the Alvarez-Avni Yildirim card.

He boxed on those cards, as well as on the Jamel Herring-Carl Frampton card in Dubai, as a promotional free agent the top promoters were after. Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn put him on the two Alvarez cards hoping to eventually sign him.

Ultimately, Davis and his junior welterweight older brother Kelvin Davis (2-0, 0 KOs), a 25-year-old southpaw, who also was on the Alvarez-Saunders undercard, signed with Top Rank with their deals being announced at the Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter pre-fight news conference last month.

“I think it was a blessing being on those Canelo cards. I appreciate Eddie Hearn and Frank Smith for putting me on these cards and I felt like I took advantage, me and my brother. And now that we’re moving forward with Top Rank I know it’s gonna be nothing but great promotion, great marketing, big fights, great money for us.”

Davis, and his brother, are set to fight on the undercard of the bout between former lightweight titleholders Vasiliy Lomachenko and Richard Commey, who meet on Saturday (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+, 9 p.m. ET) in the return of boxing to the main arena at Madison Square Garden in New York for the first time in two years, a gap caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Keyshawn Davis (3-0, 2 KOs), 22, of Norfolk, Virginia, whose fight will be on the televised portion of the card, will face Jose Zaragoza (8-3-1, 2 KOs), 33, of Mexico, in a six-rounder. Kelvin will face Ryan Schwartzberg (1-3-1, 1 KO) in a four-rounder that will be part of the ESPN+ stream of preliminary bouts (5:30 p.m. ET).

“I honestly feel like I’m 0-0 again and people are looking at me like, ‘wow, what is he gonna do this time?’ I’m just gonna do what I’ve been doing — have fun in the ring,” Keyshawn Davis said.

He would, of course, have preferred to return to the pro ranks with a gold medal on his resume rather than silver, but he lost a three-round split decision to Cuban gold medalist Andy Cruz in a very close fight.

Davis, whose other amateur accolades include silver medals at the 2019 World Championships and 2019 Pan American Games, was glad to return home from Tokyo with a medal, but it eats at him that it was not gold.

“I think that’s gonna haunt me for the rest of my life, for real,” Davis said. “I’m not gonna kill myself over it though. But it’s always gonna be like, ‘damn I shoulda got that gold.’ But at the end of the day it’s life. I always tell people I’m more than a fighter. Boxing is not all I do. I got a life outside of boxing. It’s not too much of a big deal to me but, yes, it does bother me.

“Does it carry over to the pros? I’m gonna let a lot of that frustration out (on my opponents). I was thinking, like, the best fighters go to the Olympics and face adversity in the Olympics. That’s the biggest level of the amateurs and once you get that experience, going into the pros, you’ve done everything you could possibly do and you have all the confidence in the world in the pros.

“And then I started thinking – when you look at Canelo, Terence Crawford, you look at Manny Pacquiao — these guys didn’t go the Olympics and win all that extra (amateur) stuff that I just did. These guys had a determination. These guys had the grit. These guys had the will and the mind set and the belief to go out there and show that they can fight. I just feel like at the end of the day if you really just believe in yourself, and you really got the skill and the will to do it, it’s gonna come to fruition.”

While the slick-boxing Davis, who recently began training with Brian “Bomac” McIntyre, has designs on winning world titles in multiple divisions, one fight nobody should count on seeing is a showdown between the Davis brothers, who are only separated by a few pounds.

Like the heavyweight champion Klitschko brothers, who would never entertain the prospect of fighting each other, the same goes for the Davis family.

“We fight enough at home. We’ve been fighting all our lives in the house,” Kelvin said. “We would never really fight each other.”

Keyshawn agreed.

“I can’t ever see myself fighting my brother, not even for all the millions,” he said. “Nah, it ain’t worth it, for real. I don’t think it is.”

 

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