Muhammad Ali‘s grandson, Nico Ali Walsh, is aiming to follow his family’s footsteps to become world boxing champion when he takes the step up from the amateur regional circuit to the professional ranks.
The 20-year-old top prospect will face an as-yet-unnamed opponent in a four-round middleweight bout before Joshua Franco fights Andrew Maloney in Las Vegas on August 14.
Walsh has signed a multi-fight promotional pact with Top Rank and his promoter Bob Arum is confident he will honour the legacy of his family name – having joked that his grandfather ‘was a pretty good fighter‘ during his heyday.
Arum credits Ali with introducing him to the sport in the mid-1960’s and the pair remained friends for many years until his death in 2016.
He said: “Nico’s grandfather was a pretty good fighter. Hopefully, Nico will emulate his success.
“He’s a young man of great character, which one would expect from Muhammad Ali’s grandson.”
Walsh has sparred with WBC and Ring heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former two-time title challenger Dominic Breazeale and has been going through his paces at Top Rank’s gym in Las Vegas under the watchful gaze of Fury’s trainer SugarHill Steward.
“I know for certain that my grandfather wouldn’t have wanted me with any other promoter aside from Bob Arum,” he said.
“In the sport of boxing, as you’ve seen how Don King handled my grandfather and Mike Tyson, a lot of people can’t be trusted in boxing and Bob Arum is one of those people that is well-respected, not just in boxing but in business in general.
“He’s just one of those guys where he has a massive amount of respect. I’ve always wanted to be a part of Top Rank … [this] is the most tremendous blessing that I can imagine.”
Walsh will still be in his early twenties when he makes his professional debut, nearly two years younger than Ali was when he won his first major world titles.
He added: “I’m doing what I love. Signing with Top Rank is a dream come true. I’m going to have fun on August 14 and the next time I fight.
“Top Rank will give me the name, date and location, and I’ll have a great time. I am honoured to continue the fighting legacy that my grandfather started. It is a responsibility I don’t take lightly.”