He was once described as the “Wonder-kid of Shropshire boxing” by the county’s local paper The Shropshire Star.
The story was published 11 years ago when a then 14-years-old Liam Davies was about to travel to Bulgaria to participate in the European Schoolboy Boxing championships. His grandfather Brian, who passed away one year later, an inspirational figure during those early days said at the time, “I don’t think people realise what a force Liam is”.
Brian’s belief in his grandson proved to be correct as Liam picked up a European amateur bronze medal that was part of a 100-fight vest career. Nowadays, Davies is developing himself into a force to be reckoned as a pro, having notched up a ten-fight unbeaten record so far. Gone are the days of working on the bins to help with his fitness. The attitude and dedication are at a level now expected of a full-time fighter.
On Saturday night in Birmingham, live on BT Sport, Liam’s professional career takes another step towards some tasty domestic matchups having already captured the English bantamweight title. That eye-catching performance against Sean Cairns on Matchroom Boxing’s Conor Benn-Sebastian Formella card would eventually lead to a promotional deal on the other side of the street with Frank Warren. Davies would make his Queensberry Promotions debut two days after the announcement in his hometown of Telford.
Routine wins over Stefan Slachev and Raymond Commey since then have at least given Davies momentum and activity which has led to a third bout in four months on Saturday against Dixon Flores (17-7-3, 6 KOs). This time around Davies will be fighting at 122lbs rather than 118lbs and super-bantamweight is where he sees the best opportunities for his career. Just as his grandfather believed in his grandson’s abilities, Liam believes that none of us have seen the best of him yet.
“I know a lot of people say this and it’s boxing talk, but I genuinely believe I ain’t been pushed to bring the best out in me yet,” Davies told Boxing Social. “I ain’t had to dig in and show the dog in the fight I’ve got in me as well as the skills. It will happen and that’s why I’m keeping fit and keeping training because I don’t want to be shown up when things do get hard, I want to show what I’m about.
“I win this title on Saturday it puts me in a good position. See what happens with the winners of [Brad] Foster and [Jason] Cunningham and the British title [the headline fight on the same show]. I believe the British title could be vacant and I’m at super-bantam so I could become one of the top contenders. [Lee] McGregor’s fighting [Kash] Farooq again so it looks like the super-bantam [title] is going to become vacant rather than the bantam. Realistically, you could put me and Chris Bourke as the next two contenders and rightly so. And there’s a fight with [Andrew] Cain. And [Dennis] McCann too. To me it’d be ideal to fight Chris Bourke for British title, that’d be the number one target or anyone for the British title.”
Cain, a (7-0, 6 KOs) rival from Liverpool, got the better of Davies three times in the amateurs. Not a sore point for the beaten man but a shift in tone suggests it’s something he would like to remedy one day. The pair were scheduled to renew their rivalry on Saturday before illness forced Cain to withdraw. One for further down the road.
“He beat me when I was a kid,” Davies placing emphasis on the word ‘kid’ and the fact it was a long time ago.
“It’s all different now. That’s what I was going to show on Saturday but whatever’s gone on has gone on, it’s not happening. I’m just glad I’m still on the show and keeping that momentum going. The more fights [I have], it’ll become harder for anyone to beat me because of the momentum I will have.”
While it wasn’t a chore to make the bantamweight frame, Davies is enjoying life four pounds north. More energy, feeling better all-round and a bigger spring in his step means that the deeply talented 122lbs British scene got even stronger. Davies, Jason Cunningham, Brad Foster, Gamal Yafai, Chris Bourke, Jack Bateson, James Beech Jr, Hopey Price, Shabaz Masoud, Thomas Essomba, Andrew Cain, Rhys Edwards. You would watch a fight featuring any combination of that dozen.
The origins of Davies’ career and the foundations put in place are down to one man, his grandfather who used to run the Donnington Boxing Club now overseen by Liam’s father.
Liam speaks glowingly of his grandad. A man’s man, he says. A breed that got on with it and didn’t allow any ailment to hold them back in his eyes. When Liam’s grandfather lost his life in July 2010 after battling throat cancer, it was a sad day not just for the family but for the entire area of Donnington, Telford, such was Brian’s impact on the community.
“He didn’t just have a massive impact inspiring my life it was many kids through Donnington, Telford,” Liam says. “You speak to many a grown man now with families and they’ll tell you how much my grandfather helped them in general with life and knowledge. I think many people can agree with me than men like him come along once in a blue moon. It just saddens me sometimes that he’s not here to see this. He always told me all this would happen. It’s crazy. He told me I’d get there. It’s been a long journey, but it’s been worth it. My old grandad knew it would come and with a bit of luck, he used to say, he’ll be there.”
“I remember him always having ice cream,” reminisced Davies. “I look back now and it’s crazy. When my nan used to say all he is having is ice-cream because he couldn’t eat or swallow, you’re young and you don’t think about why that was. It got him in the end, bless him. I was abroad when it happened, my dad was getting married. Now we’re making memories because that’s all you have in the end. Plenty of good ones with him. Singing ABBA on the way home from boxing shows that he’d just gone to watch. We’ve got to keep it going and that’s what motivates me. I’ve got young brothers and sisters and they look up to me and I know they do. That motivates me, too.”
One of Liam’s younger brothers, Bradley Thompson (he and Liam have the same mother but different fathers), made his professional debut at flyweight in May in Sheffield, carrying on the boxing tradition through a family that also has three girls. Another brother Brayden reached national final level as an amateur and is now embarking on a career as a doctor, much to the pride of Liam who still lives at home with his mum and siblings.
“He’s very clever. Boxing is in the family though. Fighting’s in the blood. I was born for it,” said Liam.
The popular ticket seller has already sampled the atmosphere and energy of fighting in Telford, both as an amateur and in his first outing with Frank Warren as a promoter. It’s an experience he wants to savour once again.
“It was a good little reminder of how long it’s been and how much I missed it on my doorstep. Hopefully, we can have a big show in Telford soon. The plan would be for the British title and me headlining it.”
Main image: Queensberry Promotions.