CATOOSA, OKLAHOMA - AUGUST 13: Nico Ali Walsh (L) and Jordan Weeks (R) posed during the weigh in at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa on August 13, 2021 in Catoosa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

If making your professional boxing debut was not enough pressure, trying to live up to the family name is another story entirely.

Particularly if that name belongs to the greatest boxer of all time.

That was the dilemma facing Nico Ali Walsh on Sunday – the grandson of late boxing great Muhammad Ali – when he fought Jordan Weeks, wearing shorts gifted by his grandfather.

Watch Franco vs Moloney III live on Main Event, available on Foxtel and Kayo on Sunday 15 August at 12pm AEST. ORDER NOW >

Ali Walsh channeled the spirit of his grandfather in a first-round demolition job as he won by technical knockout.

The 21-year-old landed 20 power punches in the shortened round, scoring an early knockdown and embracing the killer instinct to quickly take care of his weakened opponent.

“This lived up completely to my expectations,” he said post-fight.

“It is very emotional, it has been an emotional journey these last couple of months. Obviously my grandfather, I’ve been thinking about him, I miss him.

“Thank you to Jordan Weeks and his people. Tough, tough kid. I think me and him made a bit of history tonight.

“It seems like a lot of pressure but to me it is just my grandfather. To everyone else he was the greatest fighter that ever lived, maybe the greatest person but to me he is the greatest grandfather.

“I’m never wearing these trunks again. They were my grandfather’s, it is so emotional. This is a dream come true.”

In a Top Rank promotional video Ali Walsh said he was not caught up in the pressure of living up to his famous grandfather’s “name or fame”.

Instead, he had his own definition of success, one that is defined by proving something to himself and his family.

“I feel like success doesn’t mean going 30-0, it doesn’t mean going 50-0, I think it’s a feeling,” he said.

“At some point I’ll know that I felt like I continued this legacy right. At that point I’ll know that I’ve had a successful boxing career.”

Ali Walsh was initially supposed to have his first professional fight in 2020 but the coronavirus pandemic threw that timeline out the window.

He was trained by Sugar Hill Steward, who worked with two-time world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

Ali may not have been there but there was some sense of familiarity for his grandson.

The first fight Bob Arum promoted was Ali’s title fight in 1966 against George Chuvalo and so it was fitting that all these years later he helped carry on the family legacy.

“It is something you can’t write, the fact his first promoted fight was my grandfather and he is promoting me, it is ridiculous,” Ali Walsh said of Arum post-fight.

Arum was just as honoured to take on that role.

“It’s still surreal to me that more than 50 years after I began promoting The Greatest, his grandson [Ali Walsh] turns pro on our [Top Rank Boxing] show Saturday night,” Arum tweeted.

“A true moment of pride for me.”


By Malvi