Thursday, June 08, 2023  |


Nico Ali Walsh is carving out his own legacy without ‘circus fights’

Nico Ali Walsh defeats Jeremiah Yeager at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa on January 29, 2022 in Catoosa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Fighters Network

Many successful professional boxers claim a boxing pedigree – but few are in the league, in that regard, of Nico Ali Walsh. However, the 22-year-old middleweight is set on becoming an all-time great in his own right. 

Ali Walsh, the grandson of “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali, as well as the nephew of women’s boxing legend Laila Ali, carries an 8-0 (5 KOs) record into his next bout on the undercard of the May 20 Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko undisputed lightweight championship. He will be facing Danny Rosenberger (13-9-4, 4 KOs) at around 8:00 p.m. ET, with the pay-per-view portion beginning at 10 p.m. ET.

“I’ve done all my research on him,” Ali Walsh told The Ring. “So I know his style. I know what he does well, what he doesn’t do well. And he’s way more experienced than me – he’s my most experienced opponent to date.”

Ali Walsh is training to win in whatever way he looks the most impressive – be that by knockout or by decision. He added that he’s had knockouts where he didn’t feel he looked great and said he’s more concerned about how he looks than getting the knockout.

Ali Walsh goes into this fight under the tutelage of Kay Koroma but has trained under SugarHill Steward and Abel Sanchez in the past. In his interview with The Ring, Ali Walsh reasserted that this is the path he wants to take – fighting real boxers and working his way up – as opposed to using the Ali name to partake in “circus fights.”

“I really get sick of people mentioning Jake Paul and that kind of stuff,” Ali Walsh said. “Everyone’s got their lane, I respect anyone who gets in the ring, but that’s just not my path. I could squeeze the boxing game and take advantage of the [Ali] name, I could fight Jake Paul or maybe a WWE wrestler, but that’s not my path. . . my legacy is not money, my legacy is boxing.”

Ali Walsh is focusing on the task at hand – climbing the ranks of the middleweight division and earning a title shot. He doesn’t have any superfights in mind but mentioned that it would be “an honor” to face some of the top names right now.

“You look at people like Canelo, you look at the Charlos, you look at David Benavidez, like these are phenomenal guys,” Ali Walsh said. “So if I were to be in the mansion with any of the top contenders, it’d be an honor.”

But though his focus is to make his own legacy, he feels that he brings his grandfather with him every time he steps foot in a ring. This is especially true come May 20, just about two weeks before the seven-year anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s death. In fact, according to Ali Walsh, his own boxing career continues to bring the Ali family together.

Nico Ali Walsh in the shadow of his legendary grandfather Muhammad Ali – Photo courtesy of Top Rank

“My grandfather brought us all together,” Nico Ali Walsh recalled. “Every time he would have a birthday party, all the family members – from everywhere around the country – would come to Arizona to celebrate his birthday. Obviously we stopped doing that when he passed away, but once I started fighting, it brought all of us back together.”

Additionally, Ali Walsh’s favorite fight is one where his opponent paid tribute to his grandfather. Against Billy Wagner, a bloodied and bruised Wagner told Ali Walsh in the middle of the fight “It’s an honor to fight you, bro.”

Ali Walsh is taking a natural path for an up-and-comer aspiring for a title shot, with his name earning him a bigger spotlight than other prospects at this stage of their career. This spotlight comes with both perks and drawbacks.

“When I get to like the title shots and these bigger fights, I’ll be more than ready for that kind of stage,” Ali Walsh said. “The main drawback I see is that I get a lot of people hating me, because I’m given this opportunity. But with this opportunity being on this stage, there’s so much more pressure – no one will be able to understand the pressure that I face every single fight. It’s a pressure that can’t be replicated in any other boxer because I’m an Ali.”