Muhammad Ali’s grandson, Nico Ali Walsh, finds greatness in Glendale

Boxer moves to 8-0, eyes future title shot

Posted 2/6/23

As Nico Ali Walsh touched down in the Valley last week, he couldn’t help but feel the emotions from his last visit.

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Muhammad Ali’s grandson, Nico Ali Walsh, finds greatness in Glendale

Boxer moves to 8-0, eyes future title shot


As Nico Ali Walsh touched down in the Valley last week, he couldn’t help but feel the emotions from his last visit.

More than six years ago, Ali Walsh came to the Valley with family to lay his grandfather – the great Muhammad Ali – to rest.

Now back in the area for a more cheerful experience, he extended his professional boxing record to 8-0 in the pro ranks this past Friday at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale. The 22-year-old remained unbeaten with a six-round, unanimous decision over Phoenix’s Eduardo Ayala in their ESPN+ aired contest from Glendale.

“It’s definitely weird being back here, but I’m here for a job, so I’m looking to make a happier memory,” said Ali Walsh, who faced Ayala on the Navarrete vs. Wilson undercard of Top Rank Boxing. “Change the story, that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

So far, Ali Walsh’s boxing story has been one of victory.

He’s picked up eight wins, five by way of knockout, in just a year and a half as a professional. While boxing seems like a natural career path for Ali Walsh, he wasn’t pushed into the sport at all.

“I was always around (boxing), but I made a conscious decision when I was like 14 to really work (at) everything to make it to the top, and since then I haven’t stopped,” he said.

Ali Walsh began his career in the amateur ranks and took roughly 30 fights before he felt ready for the next step. While that number is far less than most boxers need, he did not rush the transition. 

Ali Walsh spent time training in Big Bear Lake, California, with Abel Sanchez, the legendary trainer who has trained multiple world champions, including the unified middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin, and garnered honors like the BWAA Trainer of the Year in 2015. Once he turned professional, the middleweight began working with SugarHill Steward, another legendary trainer who most notably has trained the current heavyweight champion of the world, Tyson Fury.

While Ali Walsh surrounded himself with the right people at the start of his career, nobody could prevent the whirlwind of comments, comparisons and pressure that came from being an “Ali” in boxing.

“You have to embrace it, because everyone’s going to continue to bring him up,” Ali Walsh said. “It’s not up to me. It will always happen even if I wasn’t boxing, people were bringing him up before boxing. So you got to embrace it.”

In his first professional fight, Ali Walsh finished Jordan Weeks with a brutal barrage of punches less than two minutes into the first round, doing so in a pair of his grandfather’s white Everlast shorts passed down to him. Most viewed the shorts as Ali Walsh paying homage to his grandfather, but it was more of an accident.

“That was actually a total mistake. It’s kind of similar to this situation I’m in right now. I had shorts that were supposed to be made for me, but they weren’t here in time,” Ali Walsh said. “So just in case, I brought my grandfather’s shorts, just in case. I wasn’t expecting to wear them. And it happened that my shorts were not delivered on time, so I had to wear my grandfather’s shorts. I didn’t wear them for long because it was a first-round stoppage, which is great, but definitely brought me some luck.”

Ali Walsh may have looked like his grandfather in his first fight, but he has been able to separate himself from comparisons with his own unique style.

As proven by his 71% KO rate, Ali Walsh is an aggressive fighter and isn’t afraid to stay in the pocket and trade shots, usually getting the better of the exchange. He has also shown thunderous power in his short career, with four of his five KOs coming within the first two rounds.

The great Ali’s style is impossible to replicate, and his grandson doesn’t try inside the ring. Outside the ring, it’s a different story.

“We’re not very similar in style. I’d like to have footwork like him. We have more similarities when it comes to how we are as a person not as a fighter,” Ali Walsh said. “I want to be the kind of guy that he was … no one can (match Ali’s persona) you know, but I’m trying my best.”

With his eighth straight win, Top Rank Promotions says it plans to prepare Ali Walsh for a future title shot.

“(In the future) I think we’re just gonna raise the opposition, increase the number of rounds, steady fights and eventually, God willing, he’ll compete for a world title,” said Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who also promoted many of Muhammad Ali’s fights.

Nico Ali Walsh, Desert Diamond Arena, Glendale, Arizona, Top Rank Promotions