Daily News Social: Ward praises Buatsi, the Ali journey continues and Dave Allen returns

In a new series, published every weekday on Boxing Social, the incomparable Terry Dooley delivers his unique look at the boxing news.   

Nico Ali Walsh (1-0, 1 KO), the grandson Muhammad Ali, made his professional debut in Oklahoma on Saturday night courtesy of a single round win over Jordan Weeks (4-2, 2 stoppages). Walsh wore a pair of white and black shorts reminiscent of the ones Ali often wore, and which were a present from his grandfather, and in the aftermath of the fight he declared that had enjoyed his first foray into the professional ranks. 

“This lived up completely to my expectations,” the 21-year-old said when reflecting on the one-sided win. “It’s been an emotional journey. Obviously my grandfather, I’ve been thinking of him so much. I miss him. It seems like a lot of pressure. To me, it’s just my grandfather. He’s the greatest fighter who ever lived, maybe the greatest person.” 

Walsh doesn’t just have the name; he has the backing of Bob Arum and SugarHill Steward as well as the opportunity to train alongside the likes of Tyson Fury. He aims to stay active and is likely to be given ample undercard runouts by Arum in order to see just how far he can go. 

Eddie Hearn liked what he saw from Joshua Buatsi (15-0, 13 KOs) on Saturday after the 28-year-old registered an 11th-round win over Ricards Bolotniks (now 18-6-1, 8 early) in the final installation of Hearn’s Fight Camp series. “After four or five rounds I thought this guy has got a head like stone,” stated Hearn when summarising the fight (quotes taken from the Daily Mirror). “I didn’t think Josh would be able to get him out of there.” 

Buatsi floored his opponent in the sixth, then almost took himself out while trying to produce the finish. It will be a lesson learned for the light-heavyweight and one that his promoter believes will be taken on board. “He emptied his tank in the sixth round and had to come back and get his wind,” added Hearn. 

“That’s when the championship fighters come good. To go and finish him like that in the 11th round was brilliant. It’s the perfect fight for Buatsi, a stunning performance. I believe this young man is going to be a world champion.” 

“Bolotniks, he pushed me,” said Buatsi. “I think he said I hadn’t been past seven rounds before so after seven we would see. Well, I was there until 11 when I landed a good shot. I’ve got a great team and I’ve got a promoter that believes in me. He’s been pushing for fights like this because he knows I can do it. Tonight, I went out there and showed people I can do it. We just build from here.” 

Andre Ward used to be trained by Virgil Hunter, Buatsi’s coach, and “Son Of God” Tweeted that the improvements were there for all to see. ‘Good win for Joshua Buatsi!’ he wrote. ‘Everything that took place before the knockout is what he needed to get him ready as he faces tougher competition. He needed to be able to go the rounds to prove to himself he could do it. Great finish!’ 

Hearn has also told Graeme MacPherson of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail that he hopes to put on a rematch between Kash Farooq (16-1, 6 stoppages) and Lee McGregor (11-0, 9 KOs) after Farooq beat Mexico’s Luis Gerardo Castillo (28-3, 18 early) by decision over 10 on Saturday to win the vacant WBC International bantamweight title.  

The two men met in November 2019, a split decision for McGregor to add Farooq’s British title to his Commonwealth title, and “Lightening” recently defended his EBU title with a fourth-round KO over Vicent Legrand. Now Hearn wants to match the two Scotsman against each other. “Kash needs to step up now,” stated Hearn.  

“Everyone knows I’m going to make that Lee McGregor fight. I’ve been talking to his team about that fight. Maybe they both fight in Scotland in November first but we have to make that fight for both guys. It’s the perfect fight for both. Lee McGregor thinks he can win that second fight. Kash thinks he can win that second fight. It’s a great fight for Scotland and Kash Farooq rolls on.” 

Farooq is keen on the fight and the desire to avenge that loss on home soil is a big draw for the 25-year-old. “I’ll leave that to my manager Iain Wilson and my trainer Craig Dickson,” he said. “They’ll sit down and discuss the plan. My job is just to fight and they’ll tell me what route have to go down but if I had a choice I would fight McGregor. It is a big fight for Scotland. Me and Lee could sell out the Hydro, 100 per cent.” 

Hearn is also eying another local derby after Peter Smith of the Yorkshire Post reported that Hopey Price (5-0, 1 early) wants to take on Zahid Hussain (16-1, 2 early) in Leeds next month. Hearn’s Leeds show is topped by Josh Warrington’s rematch against Mauricio Lara, but Price believes he will be all right for a slot that night and hopes that Hearn can make it so following a six-round decision win over Claudio Grande (5-1, 3 early) on Saturday. 

“I’m ready to go in my hometown in front of 20,000 fans,” said Price. “I’ll steal the show there, 100 per cent. I’m ready for Zahid Hussain — I was ready for it back in September and the ‘Magic Man’ didn’t turn up, so, we’ll see this time if he comes and if he does, I promise Hopey Price will come out the victor.” 

“I said it from my second pro fight, I believe there are levels to boxing and my boxing brain is one of the best in Britain,” he continued. “I believe I’m levels above Zahid Hussain…It has been coming slowly but surely, now over the next year or so you’ll see the best of me.” 

John Fury insists that his son Tyson (30-0-1, 21 KOs) will stop Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) in five rounds when they meet on October 9 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but “Gypsey” John has warned his Fury not to get complacent and to expect Wilder to be dangerous throughout. 

When speaking to BT Sport Boxing, Fury Sr. issued a warning, arguing that his son needs to be as fit and as focussed as he was for their rematch back in February 2020. “I think if he’s [Fury] on his A-game, we tick all the boxes, it’ll be over within five rounds,” he predicted. 

“It’ll be a quicker job than it was last time. AJ, we should get him straight after. I’m not interested in anything. I wasn’t even interested in Wilder. I’m still not interested in Wilder, but he’s cropped up, he’s a bump in the road, and we got to get through him. He’s not going to go away because the powers that be in America said he’s entitled to a third fight, which is absolutely rubbish. It’s all mind games and politics again.” 

“The only problem is inactivity,” he added, issuing a word of warning. “If you go to America half-cocked, then your belt stays there. Wilder is still the most dangerous heavyweight out there.” 

David “The White Rhino” Allen (18-5-2, 15 early) returns against Italy’s Andrea Pesce (7-13-3, 2 stoppages) on a Dennis Hobson-promoted Fight Academy show on at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge Arena on August 27.

Hobson believes that we may yet get to see the best of Allen, but the veteran promoter is also aware that at 29 and with a tough career behind him this is the last throw of the dice for the heavyweight boxer.  

“The ‘White Rhino’ is also returning on this show,” he said. “I’ve seen Dave take tough fights in the past when he wasn’t really in top condition, and I’ve been worried for him. But he’s been out of the ring for over 12 months now, has come with us and he’s in fantastic shape. I’m looking forward to seeing the second coming of Dave Allen, and hopefully he’s fresh enough to win a proper title.” 

Allen’s win over Lucas Browne in 2019 looked good at the time yet Browne has looked woeful since and what little shine it had has been knocked off it as both men have been either knocked out or badly beaten up since that night — Allen was retired in 10 by David Price in his next fight and Browne was stopped in one by Paul Gallen earlier this year.

Still, Dave Allen has got a licence, he wants to fight, he has a team around him and now he has an opponent, a platform and a date. The rest is up to him.