George Davey spent his childhood growing up in Lanzarote. Sun, sand, the ocean, barbecues and always surrounded by good people.
Water sports and mountain climbing were just a couple of the activities he would get involved in to pass the time in the picturesque surroundings. The ocean became a close friend, something he could turn to whenever he needed to escape for a few hours. A postcard setting and a life that few British kids get to realise. Davey knows how lucky he has been. But his life beyond that had to be considered at some point and initially his ambitions were to become a vet.
“Growing up I wanted to become a vet but then I realised you had to be really smart,” laughed the 23-year-old who spoke to Boxing Social just as fight week for his fourth bout was about to begin.
“I kinda gave up on the vet idea. I love animals and I did want to become a vet but that involves going to University. I’m not the academic type, more sporting.”
Around his early teens was when boxing really hit the Frank Warren promoted welterweight who is moving down to 147lbs from 154lbs for the first time in his fledgling pro career. The fourth instalment of which will play out in front of the BT Sport cameras tomorrow night against Jamie Stewart on a night when Denzel Bentley and Felix Cash will likely knock middleweight lumps out of one another.
But just before that all important teenage period of his life, Davey had wanted to try boxing just before his age began to end in ‘teen. His reason almost sounded like a rite of passage he wanted to go through.
“I really wanted to hit someone,” he began. “I’d never hit anyone, and I just wanted to know that experience was. It was my first ever spar. I wasn’t even a boxer.
“I sparred this lad and he’d been boxing for a few years. He was a good little boxer. I’d never boxed, and he was just hitting me. I thought to myself, I did not expect this. I just run at him, wind-milling, hitting his arms and hands. After the spar he said, ‘Wow, you actually hurt my arms’, and I took that as a positive! I thought I’ve never boxed in my life, I’ve hurt this lad on the arms, that’s a good thing.”
An encouraging few steps for Davey telling the story which happened half his life ago. So, that was his first spar. His second told him that he had what it took to go forward with idea of becoming a fighter, one that would eventually have to see him leave Lanzarote for York.
“I remember this second spar I had. A couple of years had gone by because I gave it up. I went back. I sparred this girl. I was going to work with my dad at the time, he was telling me she’s going to beat you up, this and that, he was getting in my head. I hadn’t had a fight. I’d only sparred once in my life and this girl… I think she’d had ten fights. I was really up for it.
“I didn’t want to get beaten up by a girl. I went for it, slipped her jab, jabbed her back, made her nose bleed, hit her with a right hand and she was crying, and I felt really bad! She was a lot heavier than me as well. I was only a little kid. I felt bad. Then I thought I’ve got what it takes. Don’t take anything away from her though, she was like some sort of champion.”
No spars with the opposite sex have followed since that occasion unless you count the times when his girlfriend tries to wallop him with a pair of gloves!
Davey began his life in Lanzarote at nine months old in a camper van. His parents had travelled around Europe having sought to leave Great Britain for pastures new. Fifteen years or so would pass, which included an education at a Spanish school (he speaks fluent Spanish) and made some great friends and memories that you might only see on a holiday programme. But to take boxing seriously, to a new level, it was agreed with his amateur coach and his dad that he would have to pack up and head back to England. Initially his old trainer thought it would be best to go the big smoke, London.
“London would have been a very bad place for me,” he admits. “I’d have no friends, no family at all but over in York I had my grandma that I could live with at least. I had a little bit of family and also Henry Wharton had just opened a gym. We thought that could work. We came over, we visited, and we thought Henry could be the guy to get me plenty of amateur fights and I could learn from him and here we are.”
However, homesickness hit Davey for the first 12 months of his time back in England. Not easy for anyone leaving home for a new world, a new climate and not many familiar faces. Difficult for someone who has the life experience t-shirts let alone a teenager who loved nothing more than being at the beach.
“The first year was definitely the hardest,” he recalls.
“I wouldn’t say I was depressed but I was very down. Every chance I could get I would go back for a week or two to Lanzarote to see the family. I had no friends, I just got moved back and it was wintertime. It was a bit of a dark period, but I just thought we’ll overcome it. I’ve come here for a reason, so I got my head stuck in and be a boxer.”
And getting stuck in is exactly what he has done. His working relationship with Wharton – a former British, Commonwealth and European champion and three-time world title challenger – has blossomed from the amateur circuit to the professional scene. Wharton mixed it with household names like Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Robin Reid and holds wins against the likes of Mauro Galvano, Sam Storey, Rick Thornberry and Vincenzo Nardiello. An important player in the super middleweight scene of the 1990s and not just a trainer to George Davey, but a fountain of knowledge and experience that Davey can be the proverbial sponge and soak up.
“I’m always asking him questions about things like if I’m nervous what should I do. I’m always asking him questions and he’s always giving me the right answers.”
Nerves naturally hit Davey on his pro debut on October 12, 2019 against Zygimantas Butkevicius. Fights two and three were similar but the butterflies settled and it’s one of the many aspects of boxing that Davey is learning about on a daily basis. The party message with Team Davey is clear: There is no rush, no need to follow fools that rush in.
“I feel like I’ve grown since my last fight,” he says. “It was a good debut, better performance in the second fight and an even better performance in the third fight. I’m easing my way into it and they’re not putting me in with easy opponents. Jeff Thomas (his third opponent), he brought the best out in me. I’m really enjoying the process and Henry always tells me try and enjoy the process because if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing there’s no point in doing it.
“You always want better fights, better opposition, titles but I want to do it properly, I don’t want to rush into anything. I don’t want to burn myself out. Henry keeps reminding me of that, do everything the right way, we’ve just got to trust the process.”
And with that the talking stops. The time is nearly upon us to sit down and watch another of Frank Warren’s up and comers. Before that it would be time in the bubble for Davey. Cards is a pastime of his and Wharton’s. They like to play a bit of Blackjack but there’s another favourite too. And that is…?
“Patience,” he answers.