Nico Ali Walsh added to Valdez-Stevenson undercard

Las Vegas native Nico Ali Walsh, grandson of “The Greatest,” hopes to make a statement for the hometown fans. Ali Walsh will fight Denver’s Alejandro Ibarra in a four-round middleweight attraction Saturday, April 30, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Ali Walsh-Ibarra will open the televised broadcast featuring the world junior lightweight title unification showdown between WBC champion Oscar Valdez and WBO king Shakur Stevenson.
 
Valdez-Stevenson, an eight-round lightweight co-feature between U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis and Esteban Sanchez, and Ali Walsh-Ibarra will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Ali Walsh said, “Las Vegas is home, and the MGM Grand Garden Arena has hosted so many legendary fights. This is a dream come true. I’ve gotten to know Oscar and Shakur, and it’s an honor to fight on their card. I’m focused on my fight, as Ibarra is a capable veteran. He wants to be the guy to knock off Muhammad Ali’s grandson. I won’t let that happen, especially in front of my family and friends.”

Ali Walsh (4-0, 3 KOs) graduated from Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School and is currently a student at UNLV, where he is on track to graduate later this month with a degree in business entrepreneurship. He turned pro last August with a headline-grabbing first-round knockout. Ali Walsh fought twice more in 2021, including a four-round decision over Reyes Sanchez at Madison Square Garden, the site of many of his grandfather’s most memorable ring battles. Ali Walsh last fought in January in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he knocked out Jeremiah Yaegar in two rounds. He now turns to Ibarra (7-1, 2 KOs), a 28-year-old who has won four straight since the lone loss on his ledger.

Robson Conceição defeats Xavier Martinez by unanimous decision

Robson Conceição did not experience a world title defeat hangover. Less than five months removed from a close decision loss to WBC super featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez, Conceição earned a one-sided decision over the previously undefeated Xavier Martinez in a 10-round WBC super featherweight title eliminator Saturday evening at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

Conceição (17-1, 8 KOs), ranked No. 3 by the WBC, won by scores of 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92. He outlanded Martinez (17-1, 11 KOs) in each of the final five rounds.

After the fight, Conceição called out for a rematch against Valdez.

“I learned a lot from that Oscar Valdez loss, and that’s why I was able to dedicate myself,” Conceição said. “I wasn’t discouraged by what happened that evening. I know who I am, and I knew if I put in the work, I could have this type of performance. But my mind is set on Valdez, and I definitely want that shot.

“To be honest, I think Xavier Martinez punches harder than Oscar Valdez. I felt his punches, but I know this is the type of fight I needed to prepare myself because I’m a world champion level fighter. And I definitely want Oscar Valdez.”

Martinez had pockets of success, stunning Conceição in the fourth and ninth rounds. But the heavy blows were few and far between, as the 2016 Brazilian Olympic gold medalist ultimately showed his class.

Martinez said, “I thought it was closer. I know I didn’t do enough to win. I sat back too much. I didn’t listen to the game plan fully. It is what it is. I’m not going to be a sore loser. He did his thing tonight. It wasn’t my night. I’m not done. This is just the beginning.”

Cabrera Cruises Past Giron

Giovanni Cabrera (19-0, 7 KOs), who is trained by Freddie Roach, authored a one-sided boxing exhibition with a unanimous decision over Rene Tellez Giron (16-2, 10 KOs) in the eight-round junior welterweight co-feature (scores: 77-75 and 78-74 2x). Cabrera, from Chicago, returned to action for the first time since 2019 and ended Giron’s three-bout winning streak.

Giron rose to prominence with his 2019 knockout win over Karlos Balderas, but he showed up five pounds overweight Friday for his originally scheduled showdown against Luis Melendez. He was then matched with Cabrera, who weighed in at 138.6 and hopes to campaign as a lightweight moving forward.

Cabrera outlanded Giron, 141-122, and pulled away on the judges’ cards down the stretch.

In undercard action:

Middleweight Nico Ali Walsh (4-0, 3 KOs) returned to the venue where he made his pro debut last August and once again scored a devastating stoppage. Ali Walsh took care of Jeremiah Yeager (1-2-1, 1 KO) in the second round, knocking him down for the first time with a right-left combination.

Just before the second knockdown, Ali Walsh broke out his grandfather’s patented Ali Shuffle and finished things off with a left hook.

Ali Walsh said, “I think the main thing was staying calm, which I did. Another thing was head movement and defense, which I felt like I did improve on. I fought last month, so if I can make those small improvements in this such a short amount of time, who’s telling what I can do in my next fight?
 
“I didn’t plan {the Ali Shuffle}. It was emotional, of course. So much has been going on, but yeah, I didn’t plan on doing that. It’s just something that happened.”

Cleveland-born welterweight Tiger Johnson (2-0 1 KO), who represented the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics last year, lived up to his blue chip billing with a one-sided, four-round decision over Xavier Madrid (3-1, 1 KO). All three judges scored it 40-36 for Johnson, who had Madrid stunned on a few occasions in the fourth. The Albuquerque native fired back and saw the final bell.

St. Louis-born heavyweight Stephan Shaw (16-0, 12 KOs) shined in his Top Rank debut, stopping Philadelphia’s Joey Dawejko (21-10-4, 12 KOs) in the eighth round. Shaw never had Dawejko seriously hurt, but referee Gerald Ritter stopped the fight on the advice of Dawejko’s corner. 

Featherweight sensation Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington (2-0, 1 KO), from Brownsville, Brooklyn, knocked out Steven Brown (1-1, 1 KO) in the second round with a devastating offensive assault. Carrington pinned Brown to the ropes and unloaded with four clean shots. The final blow, a left uppercut, crumpled Brown to the canvas.

Carla Torres (7-6) used her pinpoint accuracy to edge Pink Tyson (11-3, 2 KOs) via eight-round majority decision in a junior lightweight affair. The scorecards read as follows: 76-76, 77-75 and 80-72.

Featherweight prospect Haven Brady Jr. (5-0, 3 KOs) went the six-round distance for the first time as a pro, shutting out Mexican veteran Diuhl Olguin (15-21-5, 10 KOs) by identical scores of 60-54.

Light heavyweight Dante Benjamin Jr. (1-0, 1 KO) had a successful pro debut, knocking out Emany Rendon (2-1) at 2:05 of the opening round. Benjamin knocked Rendon down twice, ending the fight with a short left hook.

Photo: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

Nico Ali Walsh returns January 29 in Tulsa

Mexican action star Rene “El Bravo” Tellez Giron will meet Puerto Rican upstart Luis Melendez in a 10-round junior lightweight showdown Saturday, January 29 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

Giron-Melendez will serve as the co-feature to the 10-round WBC junior lightweight title eliminator between former title challenger Robson Conceição and undefeated contender Xavier Martinez. Both bouts will air live on ESPN & ESPN Deportes (simulcast on ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

The ESPN+-streamed undercard will include the return of undefeated middleweight prospect Nico Ali Walsh (3-0, 2 KOs), grandson of Muhammad Ali, in a four-round bout. Ali Walsh made his professional debut last August with a first-round stoppage at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Tulsa-born heavyweight prospect Jeremiah Milton (3-0, 3 KOs) will see action on the undercard in a six-rounder.

Giron (16-1, 10 KOs), a 22-year-old rising star from Queretaro, Mexico, emerged from relative obscurity with his December 2019 knockout victory over then-unbeaten 2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas. He has won two fights since the Balderas triumph, including a seventh-round knockout over Eduardo Garza last September on the Oscar Valdez-Conceição undercard in Tucson, Arizona. Melendez (17-1, 13 KOs), winner of 15 straight fights since a controversial split decision loss, had a busy 2021. He picked up seven victories in three months in Colombia, then returned to the States with a flourish. Melendez won an eight-round decision over Thomas Mattice at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas last November, a career-best victory that earned him the co-feature slot against Giron.

“I told my manager, Frank Espinoza, that I am ready to fight any junior lightweight out there,” Giron said. “Melendez answered the call, and we’re going to give the Tulsa fans a great fight. Whenever you have a Mexican versus a Puerto Rican, it can’t help but be toe-to-toe.”

Melendez said, “I jumped at this opportunity without hesitation. I’m thankful for this platform, and I will put the 130-pound division on notice. Giron is the man in my way. I am the next Puerto Rican star, and I will prove it in Tulsa.”

Nico Ali Walsh-Reyes Sanchez, Keyshawn Davis-Jose Zaragoza added to Loma-Commey undercard

Keyshawn Davis, the lightweight star who earned a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, has a golden chance to shine on one of boxing’s biggest platforms. Davis (3-0, 2 KOs), in his first fight since signing a long-term deal with Top Rank, will face Mexican veteran Jose Zaragoza (8-3-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round bout Saturday, Dec. 11 on the undercard of the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Richard Commey lightweight main event.

Middleweight prospect Nico Ali Walsh (2-0, 2 KOs), grandson of “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali, will fight fellow unbeaten Reyes Sanchez (6-0, 2 KOs) in the four-round televised opener.

Lomachenko-Commey, an eight-round heavyweight showdown between Jared Anderson and Oleksandr Teslenko, Davis-Zaragoza and Ali Walsh-Reyes will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (simulcast on ESPN+) at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT following the 2021 Heisman Trophy Ceremony.

Davis, one of boxing’s most sought-after promotional free agents, signed a long-term contract with Top Rank last month. His notoriety soared following the Tokyo Olympics, a run that included a knockout win over France’s Sofiane Oumiha and a close loss to Cuban legend Andy Cruz in the gold medal match. Zaragoza has won three straight fights and has never been knocked out as a pro.

The full undercard will stream live on ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT and is scheduled to include the following bouts:

  • Xander Zayas (11-0, 8 KOs), the rising Puerto Rican star and frontrunner for 2021 Prospect of the Year, will fight Italy’s Alessio Mastronunzio (9-1, 3 KOs) in a six-round junior middleweight clash. Zayas is 5-0 with three knockouts in 2021, including a fourth-round drubbing of Dan Karpency in October on the Shakur Stevenson-Jamel Herring undercard. Mastronunzio, who is making his American debut, is 4-0 in 2021.

  • Undefeated welterweight Pablo “Pretty Boy” Valdez (5-0, 4 KOs), the popular New York City ticket-seller from the Lower East Side, is scheduled to fight Julio Cesar Sanchez (11-3, 6 KOs) in a six-rounder. Valdez fought Oct. 30 at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, outlasting Alejandro Martinez in a toe-to-toe crowd-pleaser.

  • Kelvin Davis (2-0, 1 KO), the older brother of Keyshawn Davis, will clash with Bryan Emmanuel Ramirez (1-1-1, 1 KO) in a four-rounder at welterweight. Kelvin Davis also signed with Top Rank last month.

  • In an eight-round battle of unbeaten junior welterweights, John “El Terrible” Bauza (15-0, 6 KOs) will face Michael “Boy Wonder” Williams Jr. (19-0, 12 KOs). Bauza is coming off June’s second-round blitzing of Christon Edwards, while Williams seeks to tally his sixth victory of 2021.

  • Staten Island-born featherweight prospect James “Crunch Time” Wilkins (9-2, 6 KOs) hopes to thrill the home city fans in an eight-rounder against Texas native Juan Tapia (10-3, 3 KOs). Wilkins, who was homeless on the streets of Staten Island early in his pro career, makes his Madison Square Garden debut with hopes of graduating to contender status.

  • Former Irish amateur superstar “Mighty” Joe Ward (5-1, 2 KOs) looks to make it six wins in a row against Britton Norwood (10-3-1, 7 KOs) in a six-round light heavyweight tilt. Ward suffered a freak knee injury in his October 2019 pro debut against Marco Delgado and lost via second-round TKO. He avenged the loss with a one-sided decision over Delgado in March. As an amateur, Ward was a three-time European Championships gold medalist, a three-time World Championships medalist, and a 2016 Olympian.

Stevenson: ‘Oscar(Valdez) can’t keep ducking’

Shakur Stevenson(17-0, 9 KOs) had the biggest test of his young career on Saturday night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta when he faced WBO 130-pound champion Jamel Herring, and it turned out to be an easy night for the Newark, NJ native.

Stevenson dominated Herring from start to finish and would get the victory by 10th-round TKO to win the WBO junior lightweight world title and become a two-weight world champion. He was brutalizing Herring, and when referee Mark Nelson stopped the fight, Stevenson was pitching a shutout on two of the three cards.

According to the 24-year-old Stevenson, after the fifth round, he started targeting a cut on Herring’s eye.

“Around the fifth round, I was landing everything, and then he started trying to come on,” Stevenson said. “I smelled blood. I saw he was bleeding and was like, ‘Okay, I have to attack the cut. I was trying to touch the cut to make the doctor try and stop it.”

The 35-year-old Herring (23-3, 11 KOs) was game on Saturday night, but he could not slow down Stevenson. 

“He’s sharp and slick. His hand-eye coordination is very good,” Herring said. “No excuses. He was just the better man tonight.”

Now, Stevenson wants more belts. As soon as the fight ended, the silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics made it clear who he wanted next, and that’s WBC 130-pound champion, Oscar Valdez.

“There’s only one fight left at the end of the day,’ he said. “It’s the biggest fight at the end of the day. Oscar can’t keep ducking. It’s time for him to fight. There’s nothing else to look forward to. The 130-pound division needs to unify. Let’s get it!”

The fight against Valdez should be next for Stevenson, and hopefully, Bob Arum and Top Rank can make that fight happen. However, if you’re Valdez, you might be a little reluctant to get in the ring with Stevenson after what you saw tonight. 

Stevenson has all the goods and appears to be the best at 130.

Ali Walsh has done it again:

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Nico Ali Walsh (2-0, 2 KOs) had to go a little longer than his one-round August pro debut, but the grandson of “The Greatest” was dominant in knocking out James Westley II (1-1) in the third round of a middleweight special attraction. Ali Walsh ate a couple hard right hands in the first round, and he then knocked down Westley with a straight right hand shortly before the bell sounded to end the second. Westley’s corner stopped the fight following a knockdown early in the third round.

“I’m happy that my pro debut went the way it did,” he said. “There’s stuff, of course, I have to work on.

“I know the crowd got excited seeing him land a punch, but I did not feel the punch. Maybe it was my energy, my adrenaline, but my hat’s off to him and his team. Mutual respect both ways, and it was a very good fight.

“I’m blessed that I’m following the legacy of my grandfather. I think everyone who loves my grandfather who’s watching me… I love this legacy that I’m continuing.”

Holyfield shines:

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Atlanta native Evan Holyfield (8-0, 6 KOs) — following in the footstep of his famous father— knocked out Charles Stanford (6-4, 3 KOs) in the second round of a scheduled six-round junior middleweight contest. Holyfield connected with a looping left hook that staggered Stanford. After a right hand for good measure, Stanford was on the deck and in no position to continue.

Stevenson on Herring: ‘I am going to take his world title in devastating fashion on October 23’

Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring and Shakur Stevenson have been talking about fighting each other for some time, and now, it’s on! 

Herring will defend his WBO junior lightweight world title against former featherweight world champion Stevenson on Saturday, October 23, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta(ESPN).

The 35-year-old Herring (23-2, 11 KOs), a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is looking to make his fourth straight successful title defense against Stevenson(16-0, 8 KOs).

Herring was at his best in April when he knocked out former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton in Dubai. However, defeating Stevenson won’t be easy, but when it’s all said and done, Herring plans to end the year the way he started it, which means a win.

“2021 has been good to me so far. I started the year with a big fight and a major win over Frampton,” Herring said via a press release. “I look forward to finishing out the year the same way I started it, not only with another huge victory but as a world champion. I have nothing else to say. I’m focused on October 23 and the fourth title defense of my WBO belt.”

Stevenson is 3-0 at junior lightweight, most recently picking up the interim WBO junior lightweight world title in June with a shutout decision over Namibia’s Jeremiah Nakathila.

According to the 24-year-old Stevenson, a former WBO featherweight world champion who vacated the title last year to move up to junior lightweight, Herring had no choice but to fight him.

“Jamel had to fight me, or he would’ve been stripped of his world title,” Stevenson said. “I boxed him into a corner, and I am going to take his world title in devastating fashion on October 23. I can’t wait to fight in front of the amazing fans in Atlanta. Trust me, you are going to see a show, and I will become a two-weight world champion.”

This is Stevenson’s moment to shine, but Herring won’t lie down. Expect a fun night in ATL.



Ali Walsh goes for victory number two:

Nico Ali Walsh (1-0, 1 KO), grandson of “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali, looks to make it 2 for 2 against an opponent to be named in a four-round middleweight special attraction.

Ali Walsh’s Aug. 14 professional debut drew international media attention, and he knocked out Jordan Weeks in the opening round while wearing a pair of his grandfather’s old trunks. He’ll make his ring return in a city that hosted two of Muhammad Ali’s most memorable moments. State Farm Arena sits less than two miles from the Atlanta Olympic Cauldron Tower, where Ali lit the Olympic flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics. In October 1970, Ali fought Jerry Quarry at City Auditorium, his first fight in more than three years after being banned from the ring for refusing induction into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Ali Walsh’s second pro fight will come three days shy of the 51st anniversary of the Quarry fight, which Ali won by third-round knockout.

The undercard — streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+ — will see the professional comeback of U.S. Olympic silver medalist Duke Ragan (4-0, 1 KO) in a six-round featherweight bout, Ragan’s Olympic teammate Troy Isley (2-0, 1 KO) in a six-rounder at middleweight, Georgia native Haven Brady Jr. (3-0, 3 KOs) in a four-round featherweight tilt, and the A-Town debut of junior middleweight prospect Evan “Yung Holy” Holyfield (7-0, 5 KOs), an Atlanta native and the son of heavyweight legend Evander Holyfield. 

Ali Walsh: ‘To hear those Ali chants was something that I’ll never forget’

Nico Ali Walsh(1-0, 1 KOs), the grandson of Muhammad Ali, made his professional debut in Tulsa, and he dominated like his grandfather on Saturday night.

Ali Walsh made quick work of Jordan Weeks (4-2, 2 KOs), knocking him out in the opening round of a scheduled four-round middleweight contest. He knocked down Weeks with a right hand, and a follow-up flurry ended the night for the South Carolina native.

Like his grandfather, Ali Walsh is promoted by Bob Arum, who promoted 27 of Ali’s fights. The 21-year-old made his debut 40 years after his grandfather’s last fight, and according to Ali Walsh, his win lived up to his expectations.

“This lived up completely to my expectations,” he said. “It’s been an emotional journey this whole ride these last couple of months.

“Obviously, my grandfather, I’m thinking about him so much. I miss him. It’s just an emotional journey, and thank you to Jordan Weeks and his people. Tough, tough kid. I think me and him made a little bit of history tonight.”

Ali Walsh, who had 30 amateur fights, does not feel any extra pressure being the grandson of the man who many think is the greatest boxer to ever live. 

“Honestly, it seems like a lot of pressure, but to me, it’s just my grandfather,” Ali Walsh. “To everyone else, to you guys and the crowd, he’s the greatest fighter who ever lived, maybe the greatest person. But to me, he’s the greatest grandfather.

“To hear those Ali chants was something that I’ll never forget. I didn’t expect that, to be honest, but it was special.”

Ali Walsh has a long way to go to be a great fighter and an even longer way to go to be like his grandfather, but he’s off to an excellent start after Saturday’s win.

Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)