JEFF POWELL: It is still the Mayweather show making a one-night appearance in London but the great man is hoping his hottest protege will supplant him as the superstar of the ring.
It is still the Floyd Mayweather show making a one-night appearance in London on Saturday evening but the great man is hoping his hottest protege will supplant him as the superstar of the ring.
Gervonta Davis is under Mayweather’s care as he defends his IBF junior lightweight world title against our own Liam Walsh in London’s Copper Box Arena.
Mayweather has been keeping much of the spotlight off the 22-year-old Davis during their visit but does not expect to be doing that for much longer.
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Gervonta Davis needed three attempts to make weight for his bout with Liam Walsh on Friday
The partially retired legend who styles himself The Best Ever says: ‘Gervonta is going to be great in his own right. He is the future of boxing. I expect him to surpass me in everything I’ve done and I want him to do it.’
Mayweather announced his retirement after equalling the late Rocky Marciano’s record of 49 wins with no defeats.
Although he is nearing a $100million one-fight-only return against UFC mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor which would almost certainly give him a unique 50-0 career, Mayweather says: I really want Gervonta to break all my records, the money included. That’s what records are there for, to be broken.’
Davis has kept quiet as through Mayweather has traded barbs with Walsh’s brothers Ryan, who boxes on the undercard of Frank Warren’s promotion, and elder sibling Michael during the build up.
The 22-year-old first came in 2oz over the 130lb super-featherweight limit at Friday's weigh-in
When the IBF champion returned to the scales for a second time he was still too heavy
Knockout %: 94
Height: 5ft 6ins
Knockout %: 66
Height: 5ft 7.5ins
Not that Mr Money doesn’t enjoy grabbing the attention but he also remembers the difficulties of coping with all the hype in his own formative years.
He says: ’Gervonta is learning everything as he goes and it helps that I’ve been through all this.’
The link between novice champion and high-profile promoter is rooted in their similarly tough upbringings. Davis has punched his way out of the gang-infested projects in Baltimore and Mayweather says: ‘Like him, I had a mother who did drugs in a tough neighbourhood. I found my way to fame and fortune through boxing and if I can use that experience to help him and other young boxers do the same, I’ll be a happy man.
‘Gervonta is not perfect yet. How could he be after only 17 pro fights. I tell him he has to take it fight by fight, day by day. It’s a process.
Britain's undefeated challenger Walsh weighed-in at 130lbs at the first time of asking on Friday
‘But he has reached world championship level fast because of first his talent, then a great performance to win his title.’
The latter came from Davis in his knock-out victory over highly regarded and previously undefeated Jose Pedraza in January.
Says Mayweather, Walsh is a good fighter but Gervonta is already on a higher level.’
Both men are undefeated so Walsh, although 30, has no trepidation about confronting the nine-years-younger champion whose 16 KOs in those 17 bouts– added to a rather large head as a child – give him the nickname Tank.
The two fighters clash at London's Copper Box Arena on a packed bill of boxing on Saturday
Davis says, simply: ‘I will knock him out.’
Walsh believes that his unusually strong bond with his brothers – three of them and their partners plus their total of 14 children live next door to each other in the Norfolk town of Cromer – is more powerful than the Mayweather drive for wealth.
He says: ‘They talk about big cars and diamond watches but my values are different. It’s not how much I’m paid which matters most. My happiness comes from family, health, good morals and enough money to live OK.
‘I expect to win this fight and if I do it will be a dream come true not only for me but also my brothers. Job done.’
Walsh chats with officials while wearing only a towel having missed weight for the second time
Mr Money joked back: ‘We’ll take your cheque then, Liam. Then you can come and join Mayweather Promotions. We want boxers who will fight for nothing.’
Davis leads with his right jab and Walsh saays ‘I enjoy boxing against southpaws. I’m ambidextrous myself and I often switch from orthodox. So I know how to work them out.’
Davis is a heavy favourite in the betting but Walsh says: ‘The bookies don’t know as much about boxing as me and my brothers.’
If Walsh succeeds in upsetting the odds it will be one of the more memorable achievements in British boxing – and would leave Mayweather still seeking an heir to his gilded throne.
*Davis v Walsh will be televised live on BT Sport and BoxNation this Saturday night.Read more at dailymail.co.uk