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Liam Walsh v Gervonta Davis: all you need to know, plus a prediction

PUBLISHED: 17:42 19 May 2017 | UPDATED: 18:10 19 May 2017

Gervonta Davis and Liam Walsh go head to head for real on Saturday night. Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire

Gervonta Davis and Liam Walsh go head to head for real on Saturday night. Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire

PA Wire

Liam Walsh squares up against champion Gervonta Davis for the American’s IBF world super-featherweight title. It’s the biggest fight of the Cromer boxer’s career. CHRIS LAKEY takes a look at both fighters – and attempts a prediction.

Boxing brothers, Liam and Ryan Walsh open workout, before Liam's IBF Super-Featherweight title fight and Ryan's British title defence.
Liam Walsh Boxing brothers, Liam and Ryan Walsh open workout, before Liam's IBF Super-Featherweight title fight and Ryan's British title defence. Liam Walsh

It’s tough to separate the hype from the fact; both have a great back story that’s worthy of a Hollywood movie script.

And if you wanted any added spice, Liam’s twin brother Ryan puts his British featherweight strap on the line. If he wins, then he can keep the Lonsdale belt as it would be his third successful defence.

So what do we know about the top of the bill?

Liam Walsh with Graham Everett on the pads. Picture: Nick Butcher Liam Walsh with Graham Everett on the pads. Picture: Nick Butcher

WHEN AND WHERE

It’s at the Copper Box, on the Olympic Park at Stratford, on Saturday night.

There are 14 fights on the entire card, the first of which is expected to begin around 4.30pm. Doors open at 4pm. The main fight is expected to be around 10pm. The chief support features Liam Walsh’s twin brother Ryan, who defends his British featherweight title for the third time, against Belfast’s Marco McCullough.

Gervonta Davis - will he still be smiling after his next meeting with Liam Walsh? Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire Gervonta Davis - will he still be smiling after his next meeting with Liam Walsh? Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire

It’s virtually sold out - that’s a crowd of more than 7,500. However, it will be screened live on promoter Frank Warren’s BoxNation channel, starting at 7.30pm and on BT Sport, also starting at 7.30pm.

WHAT’S UP FOR GRABS

The International Boxing Federation super-featherweight title. Davis has held it since January as then holder Jose Pedraza’s voluntary defence. Walsh is now mandatory challenger.

HOW DO THEIR NUMBERS COMPARE?

There’s not much to choose between them. Walsh turned 31 on Thursday, Davis is 22 (he was the world’s youngest world champion). Walsh has won all 21 of his fights, 14 by knockout. His made his pro debut in February, 2008.

Davis has won all 17 of his fights, 16 by knockout. His pro debut came in February, 2013.

No quarter given between Liam Walsh, right, and Paul Appleby. Picture: Gavin Ellis/TGS PHOTO No quarter given between Liam Walsh, right, and Paul Appleby. Picture: Gavin Ellis/TGS PHOTO

On average, a Davis fight lasts just shy of three rounds. Only one fight (scheduled for six rounds) went the distance.

Walsh is five foot seven and a half inches tall, Davis is five foot six.

Liam Walsh, left, celebrates victory over Troy James. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Liam Walsh, left, celebrates victory over Troy James. Photo: Adam Davy/PA

MAJOR TITLES?

Davis has won only won title – the one Walsh wants. Walsh has been British and Commonwealth super-featherweight champion and WBO European lightweight champion – all belts he has relinquished to fight on the world stage.

STANCE?

Up close with Liam Walsh. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire Up close with Liam Walsh. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire

They are Both southpaws, although Walsh regularly switches to orthodox.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE WEIGH-IN?

There was a bit of drama. Liam Walsh doesn’t have too many problems making the weight and came in at 130lb. However, Davis did have problems. He was two ounces over at the first weigh-in and an hour later was still an ounce over. He was given another hour to lose the ounce – and made it, although he was stripped naked with the Stars & Stripes flag covering his modesty. He eventually weighed in at 130lb.

WHO ARE THE FIGHT OFFICIALS?

The referee is Michael Alexander, from Doncaster, the IBF judges are Howard Foster (Doncaster), Ms Robin Taylor (New York) and Deon Darte (Capetown).

WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

Davis is an odds-on favourite. SkyBet have him 2-9 with Walsh 3-1; Corals and Ladbrokes have it 1-4 Davis, 3-1 Walsh and if you fancy a draw, the odds range from 20-1 to 28-1.

HISTORY

They haven’t met before: neither has fought outside of their respective countries as pros, although Davis did fight in Ireland as an amateur. His mentor, Floyd Mayweather Junior also never fought outside the States – which is why, according to one or two, they weren’t quite prepared for the weigh-in.

TACTICS

Until the first punch is thrown it is hard to say what the mindsets of both fighters are: Liam Walsh, for one, is expecting to have to adapt as each round goes by. The mark of a champion will be his ability to switch, depending on the circumstances. Davis has, according to Mayweather, dynamite in his fists. He certainly blew Pedraza away. But will his inexperience cause problems (Pedraza claimed, perhaps unwisely) he had faced only D-rated opponents)? Walsh is a switch-hitter. He has a good reach, good defences, a good boxing brain. He has a horrible body punch which has left good men writhing in agony.

THE VERDICT

Two good fighters, but Davis is a bit of an unknown quantity. Yes, he was good in beating Pedraza, but how good were the previous opponents? Walsh’s pedigree is good – no one can touch him at this weight.

Has Davis travelled well? He’s hardy been in the country five minutes, he only made the weight at the third attempt – what will that take out of him physically and psychologically? Plus, and this is important, is he over-confident? Walsh is as hungry as they come for this. Davis has been massaged by Mayweather into believing he is the new Mayweather/Tyson/Leonard/Hearns rolled into one. He’s flashing the bling like there’s no tomorrow. As a great believer on sports contests being won ‘between the ears’, I believe Walsh has, at his best, wins. And, as he says, why wouldn’t he be at his best?

It won’t be easy – but since when have world title fights been easy.

Neither fighter would give a prediction this week. I am sticking my neck out big time – I say seventh and onwards it’s Walsh’s title.

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