Sixty years after Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight title at the Convention Center in Miami Beach, Nico Ali Walsh – the grandson of “The Greatest” – will step foot on South Beach soil for the first time on June 29, looking to avenge the lone loss of his career against Sona Akale.

Middleweights Ali Walsh (10-1, 5 KOs) and Akale (9-1, 4 KOs) squared off in August, and Akale was awarded a majority decision in the six-round contest. 

Ali Walsh switched trainers after the loss, handing the coaching keys of his career to renowned cornerman Ismael Salas. He rebounded with a split decision win in December (which is not reflected on BoxRec) and once again with a win in March. 

Ali Walsh and Akale will now meet again at the James L. Knight Center in Miami Beach during the undercard of the Teofimo Lopez Jr. vs. Steve Claggett fight on ESPN.

“I'm just looking to fix the mistakes I made in the first fight – a fight I feel that I should have won,” Ali Walsh told BoxingScene. “But he was awarded the decision, so I have to make it clearer this time.

“I've watched the fight about a million times at this point. I thought it was 4-2 in my favor. I don't think it was correctly scored, but what can we do? It's all a part of my journey. It makes this fight even better. I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself.

“I’m criticized more because they put me in the same light as my grandfather, and that’s insane. It’s kind of a blessing that I am [mentioned] in the same sentence with him, but the scrutiny doesn’t get to me. 

“I’m under a lot of pressure, and a lot of people don’t believe I can do it. I've proved a lot of people wrong already by accomplishing what I have so far.”

Detractors have incessantly dissected Ali Walsh’s still-developing skills since the 23-year-old turned pro in August 2021. Critics have a cavalcade of opinions mostly because the prospect tries to make a name for himself under the bright lights on TV. His fight against Akale will be Top Rank on ESPN’s opening attraction. 

“I wouldn't make it this far if I weren't here for the long run. I knew I would get to this point,” said Ali Walsh. 

“I am going to achieve all of the goals that I set out to do. My ultimate goal is to become a world champion. I'm following in the footsteps of my grandfather, but I want to make my own marks along the way. I've done things that I know my grandfather would be proud of. But there is so much more to do. And that's what I am going for – belts and legacy. Once I reach that pinnacle, I have no idea where I'll go from there.”

Where the Chicago-born, Las Vegas-based Ali Walsh will go, undoubtedly, once he touches down in Miami during fight week is the 5th St. Gym, one of Ali’s famous training grounds during his heyday. 

“This will be amazing,” said Ali Walsh. “My grandfather was my biggest fan. He really pushed me to pursue boxing. My career has changed my life and brought me and my family to places I would have wanted to see [through my grandfathers's experiences]. I'm living the dream now.”

Ali Walsh is a dreamer. 

He said the favorite saying from his quotatious grandfather is that “the man who has no imagination has no wings.” 

His imagination runs wild when he thinks about ending his career as a heavyweight, just like his legendary grandfather. 

“I’m only six feet tall, but nothing is impossible,” he said. “And I truly believe that.” 

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at] or via