New Faces: Keyshawn Davis
Hometown: Norfolk, Virginia
Weight class: lightweight
Height/ Reach: 5-foot-9 (175 cm)/ 70 in. (178 cm)
Amateur record: Over 200 fights
Turned pro: 2021
Pro record: 6-0 (5 knockouts)
Trainer: Brian McIntyre, Red Spikes and Esau Dieguez
Manager: Wanda Davis
Promoter: Top Rank Inc.
Best night of pro career and why: Davis became the first to stop gritty Mexican Jose Zaragoza and feels this performance greatly advanced his career.
“I would say last year in December, it was my fourth fight and I stopped the guy in the second round,” Davis told The Ring. “It was so smooth, so accurate, so poised. I showed I was on a different level coming into the game. It really made Top Rank have no choice but to step my competition up and I showed what type of professional I can really be.”
He credits much of his success as a professional to being an elite amateur, which gave him a strong foundation to work from.
“I feel like every fight in the Olympics was a fight that put me on the map even more,” Davis said. “The fights in the Olympics made people want to watch me the next time. I fought a Frenchman, Sofiane Oumiha, when I got the stoppage in the second round. It really put me on a different level coming out of it.”
Worst night of pro career and why: The 23-year-old boxer-puncher feels he could have done better against Jose Antonio Meza on the Canelo Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders undercard in May 2021.
“I would say my third fight,” Davis opined. “The only fight I didn’t get a stoppage.”
He is understandably disappointed to have lost to Cuban sensation Andy Cruz in the finals of the 2019 Pan-American Games and World Championships and the Olympics in 2020.
“You can never be happy with a loss,” he said. “The Olympics was just a great experience in general. I just feel how it turned out and I came out of the Olympics, I got me and my brother, Kelvin, signed [with Top Rank, and] great paydays. If I could do the Olympics all over again, I would.”
What’s Next: Davis will face experienced former two-time world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos in the opening fight on television on the Teofimo Lopez-Sandor Martin undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday.
“He’s very experienced and I’m excited about this fight,” Davis said of his next ESPN appearance. “I feel it’s going to be somewhat of a challenge for me because he’s fought world champions. I should be the best opponent he ever faced.”
Burgos (35-6-3, 21 KOs) turned professional at 16 in 2004. The Mexican veteran won his first 25 fights before losing a hard-fought decision to the vastly more experienced Hozumi Hasegawa (UD 12) for the vacant WBC featherweight title. He rebounded with notable wins over previously unbeaten Luis Cruz (MD 10) and former IBF 126-pound titlist Cristobal Cruz (UD 10) to establish his credentials at 130 pounds and earn a second world title opportunity against WBO beltholder Roman Martinez. However, although many believed he outpointed Martinez, he had to settle for a 12-round draw. Upon his return he was dominated by Mikey Garcia (UD 12) in a WBO title fight.
That led to Burgos stepping away from boxing for nearly three years. The Tijuana native returned with three wins before dropping a decision to Devin Haney (UD 10). The 34 year old’s form has been patchy of late going 2-3-1. However, the losses were against rising fighters like Hector Tanajara (UD 10), Xavier Martinez (UD 10) and Starling Castillo (UD 10).
Davis is expected to win but how he performs will be interesting. Burgos is tough and has never been stopped in 44 fights. If Davis can become the first to stop Burgos that would be a feather in his cap.
Why he’s a prospect: Davis was an elite amateur. Along with a slew of titles at the Junior and Youth level, he claimed the top prize at the Golden Gloves and U.S. National championships in 2017. He repeated his success at the 2018 U.S. Nationals.
However, on the international stage he lost to amateur nemesis Cruz four times. To his credit, he looks for a positive from those defeats, especially at the Olympics.
“It made me who I am today and got me to this level,” he said. “Seeing all those countries fighting against all them styles and knowing the whole country is against you. So, coming into the pros, I feel I’m more in my element, I’m more comfortable. I know people are coming out to see me win.”
Davis is very friendly with three-division champion Terence Crawford and two-weight champ Shakur Stevenson. He looks up to both and has enjoyed numerous sparring sessions with both men.
“I got a lot of experience sparring Terence Crawford and Shakur Stevenson,” he said. “They’re big brothers to me. I look up to them and watch how their journey unfolds and watch how they go about the media, how they train when there’s not a fight coming up. I look at everything they do and try to match it or even outdo them.”
Davis also shares the same team as Crawford, but due to the Nebraska man defending his WBO 147-pound title against David Avanesyan on the same night, Davis will be accompanied in the corner by respected veteran trainer Al Mitchell, who helmed the 2000 U.S. Olympic team and has enjoyed professional success with David Reid, Vernon Forrest and, most recently, with former Ring 130-pound champ Mikaela Mayer.
The Norfolk, Virginia resident, who is very advanced for a fighter with just six professional fights, is adaptable inside the ring and feels his very essence as a fighter is what separates him from others.
“I’m a fighter: I can go backwards, forwards, I’ve got power,” he said. “I do what I want in the ring. Whatever I’ve got to do to win, that’s what I do. I’m in my element in the ring.”
Recent International Boxing Hall-of-Fame inductee Tim Bradley, who now serves as a commentator for ESPN, has witnessed Davis’ growth as a fighter and believes he can become a big player in the lightweight division in the not-too-distant future.
“Keyshawn Davis is a serial killer,” Bradley told The Ring. “He approaches every fight the same way. He captures his foes and tortures them mentally to the point of submission. Then he knocks them out.
“I like his business mindset toward his confidence and overall boxing skills.”
Why he’s a suspect: It is difficult to see what Davis can improve at this stage of his career. He’s doing all the right things and moving at a relatively quick rate.
The biggest thing for him is to continue to evolve and improve fight-by-fight. If he can do that, the sky is the limit.
“I’ve just got to keep fighting, getting experience in the ring and everything will work itself out,” said Davis when asked what he feels he needs to improve on.
However, Bradley warns against Davis being too eager to move through the ranks.
“He should be patient and go through the process of development,” he said. “Experience and management of time inside the ring are only discovered during the hours accumulated under the bright lights from within that square circle.”
Storylines: Davis was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia by his mother.
“Growing up in Norfolk is tough for everybody just because of the environment we live in,” Davis said. “It’s not as popularly known as other bigger inner-cities like Brooklyn, but Norfolk is definitely like that. It’s just the start of how I carry myself but it wasn’t until I started traveling that I really grew into myself.
“My mother definitely did a great job raising us. I’ve got two older sisters, one who is a news producer and a professor and another who is a teacher; she is becoming a principal. My youngest brother, Keon, is competing right now to go to the Olympics, he is No. 2 in the world right now. He’s 6-foot-3, when he turns pro, he’s going to be 147 but he’s fighting at 156. Keon Davis, he’s definitely the prospect to go to the Olympics. My other brother, Kelvin, forced a guy to quit last week, he is definitely getting recognition for himself.”
Davis’ journey into boxing began when he was 9 years old.
“Me and my brother were playing a lot of sports, we were athletic and we were the best at everything we did,” he explained. “There was a boxing gym literally up the street that we could walk to and our mother asked us if we wanted to box and of course we told her, ‘Yes.’ We went to the gym that first day, we sat down and watched and then next day we were boxing and never stopped.”
His hero is Muhammad Ali but he also gives special props to another former Norfolk resident, the late, great Pernell Whitaker.
“Sweet Pea used to coach me when I didn’t have a coach,” he recalled. “He also used to take interest in my big brother Kelvin because he was a slick southpaw just like Pernell. Pernell means a lot to me coming out of Norfolk. I know how Youngs Park [public housing], especially back then, was rough. He’s a legend in Norfolk. He’s definitely somebody I look up to.”
Davis doesn’t have particular aspirations but feels he will be very successful.
“I take it fight by fight; I know God has got a plan for me,” he said. “I’m just about following the plan. I’m doing what Keyshawn ‘The Businessman’ wants to do, I don’t follow nobody, you can be my role model, I do what I want to do at the end of the day.
“Of course, I want to win a world title, I feel that’s destined for me but I don’t think that’s what’s going to make me in the sport of boxing.”
Outside of boxing, Davis likes to spend time with his family and recently bought a French Bulldog.
“I love playing basketball, I love sitting down and listening to music,” he said of his favorite pastimes. “I stay in the gym; I never get out of shape. I always come to training camp in shape and then we get in better shape.”
Sept. 3 – Omar Tienda – TKO 5
April 30 – Esteban Sanchez – TKO 2
Dec. 11 – Jose Zaragoza – TKO 2
May 8 – Jose Antonio Meza – UD 6
April 3 – Richman Ashelley – RTD 4
Feb. 27 – Lester Brown – TKO 2
Lopez-Martin, plus the undercard will be broadcast ESPN at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT immediately following the Heisman Trophy Ceremony.
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