By Glynn Evans
The odds makers might list IBF Super-Featherweight king Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis as a prohibitive 3-1 on favourite ahead of his maiden and mandatory defence against Cromer’s Liam Walsh at The Copper Box Arena in Hackney Wick on May 20th.
Nevertheless, Glynn Evans found the trade in largely patriotic mode when he canvassed a dozen industry experts regarding the outcome.
Adam Booth (London manager-coach)
Liam Walsh is a very good operator and he’ll certainly make it competitive but Gervonta Davis looked ‘generational special’ when he stopped a very good champion in Jose Pedraza to win the title last January. The way he dealt with him was special.
This is a huge ask for Liam Walsh. Davis has the flexibility to keep changing what he does and I believe he will retain on points.
Josh Warrington (World rated Featherweight)
I might just be being a bit biased and patriotic but I want to back our man, Walsh. He’s the best of the brothers and has a very good skill set.
But this is a very hard test. Gervonta Davis came to light from nowhere in his last fight and appears a massive talent. He doesn’t do that shoulder roll as effectively as Floyd Mayweather but he has very good shot selection, puts combos together well and opponents aren’t sure what’s coming their way or from what angle. He also appears excellent in the ‘pocket’ and very strong; throws no pit-pats.
But Davis can go to sleep at times. Liam Walsh has a very good style, can box outside and is very adaptable. It’s crucial he does his own thing, keeps Davis guessing, pot shots then moves off. He definitely can’t trade with Davis. I go with a tough points win for Liam Walsh.
Lyon Woodstock (Midland Area Super-Featherweight Champion)
I see the styles meshing really well to give us a ‘visual pleasure’!!
It’s been a long time coming for Liam Walsh but now he’s finally there. I’ve sparred him recently and he’s not just a very good fighter, he’s also a very good man. I really want him to get this because he’s one of my favourite British fighters, one I really look up to.
Gervonta Davis is a very good up and coming talent who I’d love to test myself against in a few years. I’ve studied a few of his fights and admire his patience, his power and how he controls the space with his jab. He’ll need to establish that power from the beginning to prevent Liam old manning him.
But if he underestimates how intelligent Liam is, he’ll lose his title. I go with Liam Walsh on points.
Paul Butler (Ex IBF Bantamweight Champion)
This is a special, special fight. It’s a very tough ask for Liam Walsh. Davis is a quality fighter. For once, I think the hype that Floyd Mayweather is spouting, is real. Gervonta’s going to evolve into an elite operator.
He’s my type of fighter; all action, boxes clever but so aggressive. Jose Pedraza was a very good champion so, to do that to him, was very impressive.
Liam is naturally very awkward and he needs to switch and frustrate Davis, make him lunge, make him miss; give Davis a long night, take him places he’s not been before.
But I think Gervonta is going to win by stoppage, I’m afraid. Liam would’ve had a better chance of winning a world title up at lightweight, against Terry Flanagan.
Jamie Conlan (Commonwealth Super-Flyweight Champion)
Liam is one of the best in Britain. I’m always impressed with him. He’s tough, can box long or short and appears to have a great brain. He finds his distance well and has a good variety of combos. I think he possibly has the advantage at range in this fight.
But this is a big step up. I’ve only seen Davis for his title win against Pedraza but, on that performance, I’d have to fancy him to retain his title. He looked special. Liam can get caught and Davis has the power to expose that, though I doubt Walsh gets stopped. He’s got the heart and balls to get up and continue. Gervonta by decision.
Jack Catterall (World-rated Super-Lightweight)
I’ve been sparring Liam in Tenerife and he’s looking really, really good. His timing and footwork are brilliant. I was very impressed. I’ve also sparred Gervonta’s brother Malik Hawkins at the Mayweather gym.
Gervonta looked really good when he dealt with Pedraza. He clearly packs a big punch so Liam needs to stay switched on, use his feet and brains, and avoid getting involved. If he can do that, Walsh wins by points decision.
Tyrone Nurse (British Super-Lightweight Champion)
Tough one! It’ll be very close, a guaranteed cracker. I’ve always rated Liam Walsh and I really want him to win.
Davis is definitely favourite. We’d never heard of him six months ago but, against Pedraza, he did look like the next coming of Floyd Mayweather Jr. For one so young, he fought an excellent fight; southpaw skills, quick, hit very hard.
But those Walsh boys are very tough. Liam is also huge at 130 and very experienced now. He can box many different ways – box, switch or get stuck in – and he can make adjustments mid fight. He also hits pretty hard. He’s got good fundamentals in every area.
Davis is still very young and this might just be Liam’s time. He’s a fully grown man who might just rise to the occasion as underdog. I go with Liam Walsh on points.
Steve Maylett (Manchester coach)
I see a very close fight, a good technical fight rather than a war. I’m really looking forward to it.
I think everyone is getting a little carried away with Davis’ stoppage win over Pedraza. Pedraza seemed very weight drained and, stylewise, was made for Gervonta. Davis looked quite strong but he’ll need to box at his absolute best to beat Liam Walsh over here. There’s a lot of questions he still needs to answer. I want to see him tested.
I really rate Liam. He can cause Davis problems with his switching. He’s as good southpaw as he is orthodox and brings a natural awkwardness. He’s got a decent jab and good head movement. If anything, I think he’s underperformed in his previous fights. We’re still to see the very best of him.
Here he’ll need to box back foot and counter; plenty of movement and angles. Can I be controversial and go with a draw?!
Mitchell Smith (Ex English Super-Featherweight Champion)
It’s no secret that me and the Walsh brothers have never seen eye to eye but I genuinely hope everything goes well for Liam in camp and I wish him all the very best.
If I had to bet money, I’d really not know which way to go. Gervonta Davis is young, keen, game, strong . He’s a class kid and clearly street hardened but, against that, seems easy enough to hit, quite flat footed.
Timing is everything in boxing and I think this is jackpot time for Liam Walsh. Everything has fallen perfectly for him. He’s got a great jab, great feet, the heart of a lion and is an absolute monster at the weight. I expect Walsh to really turn it on, outbox Davis and claim the title on points.
Ashley Theophane (Ex WBA Super-Lightweight Challenger)
I used to spar Liam Walsh when I was British (super-lightweight) champion five or six years ago and he’s come on a lot since then.
I’m also regularly in camp with Gervonta at the Mayweather Gym in Vegas and, believe me, he’s fearless. He’s come from nothing and trains extremely hard. In addition to great skills, there’s real hunger. He didn’t beat a ‘weak link’ to get his belt, he stopped a very respected undefeated champion.
He carries big power in both hands. In sparring, I’ve witnessed him ‘wipe out’ guys three weight divisions above him, wearing headguards and big gloves. He’s got a great team around him and is a real star in the making. As long as he remains focussed and driven, I see him becoming a three weight world champion.
It’ll be interesting to see how he copes with his first fight abroad but a ring’s a ring. I’m not sure the crowd can help Liam Walsh. Gervonta’s really looking forward to coming here. The big crowd will just make him perform better.
Liam will have prepared very well and it’ll be a good fight. Us Brits don’t lay down, we always come to fight, come to win. I usually back the British boy but here I see Davis winning by kayo.
Barry Jones (Ex WBO Super-Featherweight Champion)
I feel very sorry for Liam Walsh because I believe that he’d have beaten (Jose) Pedraza had he been accorded that chance. He’s massively underrated and I don’t think there is anyone in British boxing who I’d rather see win a world title, or who is more deserving, than Liam Walsh. He’s a proper fighter – massive at super-featherweight - and a proper kid.
But, if I’m honest, I’m afraid that I can’t see Liam beating the Gervonta Davis who stopped Pedraza to claim the title. The variety and speed Davis showed that night would cause Walsh too many problems. It was only one fight but he did look very special.
Liam’s not been hurt for a while but his willingness to trade has seen him come unstuck in the past. It’s possible he’ll get stopped because, soldier that he is, he’ll not be content to get beat on points so, if he’s behind, he’ll gamble.
Joe Gallagher (Manchester coach)
I was in New York the night Gervonta Davis dismantled Jose Pedraza to win the title and I was very impressed. It seems he can box front foot, back foot, counter punch, and he’s proper spiteful. He’s got this ‘I’m coming for you’ attitude. That said, Pedraza committed tactical suicide. It’s possible we could read too much into that one night. Can Gervonta repeat that level of performance on the road?
This is a huge step up for Liam Walsh – he’s not beaten any real top liners yet - but I’m a huge fan. He’s a very educated, solid pro who really knows the game. My view is that he’d be even better up at lightweight.
He’s got a very good boxing brain and he can really make Davis work, take him late into unfamiliar territory. I think it’ll be points either way and, if push comes to shove, I’ll follow my heart and go with Walsh, provided he manages the weight properly.
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