Wearing the same trunks used by his legendary grandfather Muhammad Ali half a century earlier, Nico Ali Walsh won his emotional professional boxing debut on Saturday with a first-round stoppage.
Walsh delivered a hammering right to knock down Jordan Weeks in their middleweight bout, then struck quickly once fighting resumed and forced a halt to the bout after 1:49 at Tulsa, Oklahoma. "It was a great night,” Walsh said. "This lived up completely to my expectations.” The 21-year-old fledgling fighter was wearing a pair of white trunks with black trim given to him by his grandfather.
"I’m never wearing these trunks again,” Walsh said. "Man, they were my grandfather’s trunks. It’s so emotional. This is a dream come true. It means so much. My grandfather, I’ve been thinking about him so much. I miss him.
It’s just an emotional journey.” Walsh becomes a third generation of Ali fighters, his iconic grandfather going 56-5 with 37 knockouts and becoming the dominant heavyweight champion of the 1960s and 1970s despite being barred from fighting for three years in his prime for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. Ali’s daughter Laila became a star women’s boxer while Walsh, the son of Ali’s daughter Rasheda, has taken Ali’s legacy into the ring once again.
"I brought my grandfather in the ring with me by wearing his shorts for the first and final time as a professional fighter,” Walsh wrote in a Sunday posting on Instagram. "I’m more than proud to say: The Legacy Continues... It has been very emotional. It’s an emotional journey this whole ride,” Walsh said in the ring after the victory.
"It seems like a lot of pressure but to me it’s just my grandfather. To everyone else, he’s the greatest fighter who ever lived, maybe the greatest person, but, to me, he’s the greatest grandfather.” Walsh was promoted by a former promoter of his grandfather, Bob Arum. "I’m a believer in genes,” Arum said.