The legacy of Muhammad Ali lives on in his grandson Nico Ali Walsh. The son of Robert Walsh and Rasheda Ali Walsh (Muhammad Ali’s daughter) made his professional boxing debut on Saturday night. The 21-year-old has signed a deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Boxing back in June. In a technical knockout, Nico Ali Walsh defeated Jordan Weeks to began his career 1-0. Following in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali and Laila Ali’s boxing legacy, all eyes are on the young star to carry on the torch. Signing with the same promotion company that helmed some of Muhammad Ali’s greatest matches is a step in the right direction.
For his first match, Nico Ali Walsh wore his grandfather’s white trunks which added a more heartfelt touch to the night. Nico Ali Walsh talked about his grandfather’s legacy and impact on the night.
“Obviously my grandfather, I’ve been thinking of him so much. I miss him. It’s been an emotional journey,” Ali Walsh told ESPN. “I think me and him [Weeks] made a little bit of history tonight. This lived up completely to my expectations.”
“It seems like a lot of pressure; to me, it’s just my grandfather,” said Ali Walsh, who grew up in Las Vegas. “He’s the greatest fighter who ever lived – maybe the greatest person.
Leading up to his first professional debut, Nico juggled college classes while training in Las Vegas where he grew up. In terms of signing with Bob Arum, the decision was a no-brainer. From promoting the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ bout against Joe Frazier to the Mayweather-Pacquiao match, Top Rank Boxing is one of the biggest promoters in boxing. Bob Arum hopes to strike gold twice with the Ali family in Nico Ali Walsh.
“Step-by-step, play it by ear; watch his development and bring him along as fast as he’s able to go,” Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler told ESPN. The Hall of Famer started working with Ali in the 80s.
“I’ve seen him in the gym every day for a month. He’s learning. He hasn’t fought in over two years. SugarHill has been away with Fury and some other fighters. … It’s about building a relationship between the trainer and fighter and you can imagine the pressure on the fighter tonight. It was fun and he’s a terrific kid.”