Nico Ali Walsh is embracing his legendary grandfather Muhammad Ali's legacy: 'You can't run away from what you're doomed to do.'
They are out to get you when you are Muhammad Ali's grandson. Boxers want to make a point when they lay their gloves on you in sparring or competition.
Nico Ali Walsh has not been spoiled as a fighter simply because his grandfather was Muhammad Ali. Quite the opposite.
"My first sparring match was a total shambles because they knew who I was. I never revealed my identity. Word spreads quickly and in some ways "All Sports was informed by Ali Walsh.
"Everyone wants to defeat Ali. As I previously stated, this was my first time sparring in a boxing gym. That's something I'm used to at this point.
"Everyone I fight, especially in a professional ring, is their best selves. So far, I've seen their tape before the fight and then watched their tape in my fight after we fought. That's their best version of themselves, in my opinion.
"That's how it goes every time; they just prepare because they want to be able to beat Ali. So I'm ready for that, and it's interesting how that works. But I'm prepared."
But he never let that stop him. "I had that pressure when I first started boxing. I'd say I already had that tougher road ahead of me. So I never saw the easy way out "According to Ali Walsh.
"I've never had it so easy. I've never had it in the gym where everyone is gentle with me because of my grandfather. They're always pushing themselves harder. So I've had that difficult road my entire life, and I believe it's only strengthened me."
He expects the same when he fights Billy Wagner on the undercard of Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Jamaine Ortiz at the Madison Square Garden Theater in the early hours of Sunday morning, live on All Sports.
"I believe everyone has the potential to be dangerous," Ali Walsh cautioned. "However, at the level that I'm working at training-wise, no one that I fight right now will be able to put up with what I'm training with."
"I truly believe that how you train determines how well you fight. I'm currently training for Mike Tyson. On fight night, I'm going to need that level of ferocity, and if I don't see it, it's going to be an easy night."
Of course, his heritage brings with it opportunities and a high profile. Ali Walsh is deeply concerned about his grandfather's legacy. He has also learned to accept it.
"It's extremely important to me. Nobody will fully comprehend what it means to me. It's such a significant legacy "He stated.
"While many people claim that compartmentalizing and other similar techniques help them, I find the opposite to be true. I am motivated by my thoughts on the legacy. Of course, I consider the added pressure. Everything that comes with the legacy, the expectation, everything. It actually motivates me and ignites my passion. When I'm not thinking about it, that is. I have the impression that I am lost. That is my boxing coach. That is my light that I am striving for, and it truly motivates me.
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"Since my professional debut, I've worked hard to embrace the name, the legacy, and everything that comes with it. I need to keep doing that because running away from it does not work. You can't escape what you're fated to do."
Ali Walsh wishes to follow in his grandfather's footsteps in his own unique way. He has boxed in Atlanta, where Muhammad Ali famously lit the Olympic flame. He returns to Madison Square Garden this weekend, where he began his epic trilogy with Joe Frazier. He hopes that his boxing career will take him to the United Kingdom in the near future.
"You will undoubtedly see me fight in the UK, and I want to say soon, hopefully next year." It has to be. "Because the United Kingdom was so important to my grandfather," he explained. "I'd like to relive history in some way."
"If I don't fight in the UK, I won't be able to follow in his footsteps," he added. "Everyone in the world knows this - the UK has the best boxing fans in the world, so I'd love to feel that energy."
Nico Ali Walsh fights on the undercard of Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Jamaine Ortiz, live on All Sports Arena at 1 a.m. on Sunday.