Nico Ali Walsh remained perfect through eight fights and eighteen months in the pro ranks.
The 21-year-old fighting grandson of the late, legendary Muhammad Ali advanced to 8-0 (5KOs) with a six-round, unanimous decision over Phoenix’s Eduardo Ayala. Judges Dennis O’Connell (60-53), Esther Lopez (59-55) and Tim Cheatham (59-55) all had Ali Walsh comfortably ahead in their ESPN+ aired contest Friday evening from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Ayala came to entertain his hometown crowd. The fleshy but determined Phoenix-based middleweight enjoyed frequent success in the opening round with his right hand. Ali Walsh enjoyed the best moments of the round, effective with his right uppercut. However, the unbeaten middleweight briefly struggled to find his rhythm.
That changed in a big way in round two.
Ali Walsh—a Chicago native who lives in Las Vegas and graduated from UNLV—produced the first knockdown of the bout. It came courtesy of a right hand, which sent Ayala to the canvas at just past the one-minute mark of the second round. Ayala beat the count and rode out an ensuing volley by Ali Walsh to work his way back inside. The restored confidence exhibited by Ayala drew the dismay of Emanuel Savoy, Ali Walsh’s head trainer who instructed his charge to not get careless when at close quarters.
Ali Walsh offered a more disciplined attack in round three, sticking to the basics and landed crisp combinations. Ayala managed to pick up the pace in round four, though Ali Walsh remained unnerved and continued to find success with his right hand along with a left hook behind it. A battle of right hands was won by Ali Walsh, who briefly staggered Ayala near the end of round four though he was also forced to contend with a cut along his cheekbone.
Ayala offered a ‘happy to be here’ moment when he embraced Ali Walsh at the end of round five. The 30-year-old local boxer thought it was the end of the fight, but was forced to regroup for the sixth and final round.
Ali Walsh had plenty left in the tank, while Ayala tried to mix things by fighting in a southpaw stance at the start of the round. Ali Walsh landed a clean left hook in the closing seconds of the fight, as Ayala (9-3-1, 3KOs) accepted a moral victory with his brave offering. The final outcome, however, ended his three-fight win streak.
Headlining the seven-fight card, Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete (36-1, 30KOs) and Australia’s Liam Wilson (11-1, 7KOs) meet for the vacant WBO junior lightweight title.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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