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Is Keyshawn Davis The Future Face Of Boxing?

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 10: Keyshawn Davis celebrates after defeating Juan Carlos Burgos, during their lightweight fight at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Boxing is a proved testing ground for some of the best athletes on the planet. From Manny Pacquiao to Evander Holyfield, the sport has seen the rise of numerous prospects who would go on to become legends in boxing. American talent Keyshawn Davis is one of the newest entrants to the professional ranks and was known as one of the best amateurs of his country. He concluded his career with an appearance in the Tokyo Olympics Final where he eventually lost in a close split-decision in three rounds to Cuban amateur veteran, Andy Cruz, that earned him a silver Olympic medal.

Keyshawn Davis’ (7-0, 5 KO’s) progression as a professional sets him apart from his peers. With him being in of the most talented weight classes – the Lightweight division – in boxing, it should have been much harder and difficult for the prospect to even be considered as a top 100 fighter. Yet through his own effort and skill, Davis is now considered the 65th best Lightweight (on BoxRec) out of a pool of more than 2000 fighters. Let us dissect how this has been made possible.

As mentioned earlier, Keyshawn Davis, 24, is an Olympic silver medalist who progressed to become a professional after fighting over two-hundred times. Though it is common for most amateur fights – especially junior-level bouts – not to have been properly recorded, it is known that he has had at least eighty wins and thirteen losses while competing in the unpaid ranks of boxing. He not only has more than two-hundred fights under his belt, but additionally won multiple competition including the national Golden Gloves and the USA National Champions, Davis has certainly had the experience and achievements to make him one of the most exciting prospects to enter the sport.

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TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 08: Keyshawn Davis of Team United States celebrates with his silver medal during the medal ceremony for the Men’s Light (57-63kg) Final bout between Keyshawn Davis of Team United States and Andy Cruz of Team Cuba on day sixteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games at Kokugikan Arena on August 08, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

But despite having only fought seven times as a professional- with five coming by way of knockout, and having been in the sport for little more than two years, Davis has been the exception to the rule with how fast he has risen compared to other prospects. Let’s take Gervonta Davis (28-0, 26 KO’s) and Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 KO’s) as examples, current top 10 Lightweights who have entered the professional ranks with a massive amount of buzz and interest after their amateur careers. Like Keyshawn Davis, Gervonta Davis (unrelated to Keyshawn) and Ryan Garcia fought over two-hundred times where they similarly won in prestigious national and international competitions.

Only upon further examining these three fighters in the beginning stages of their professional careers do we see where Keyshawn Davis truly stands out. Gervonta Davis made his debut against a 0-4 fighter, while Garcia fought a fellow debutant. Keyshawn Davis, in comparison, fought a 4-2 fighter instead.

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Ryan Garcia, 24, was considered one of the most exciting prospects early in his pro career. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

As we look over the next six fights, we see Gervonta and Ryan continue on to a similar trend of fighting either debutants or fighters with losing records. With Keyshawn Davis, this is not the case. The rest of his next six fights include only fighters with winning records, and by his seventh fight he faced his first opponent that was close to the top 100 of Lightweights who had a record of 35-6. Gervonta fought his first opponent with a winning record by his ninth professional match, while Garcia tested himself against a 8-7 opponent in his seventh fight.

According to resume alone, Keyshawn Davis has made more progress in just two years of fighting, than most current world champions have made in nearly double – or even triple in some cases – that amount. To further prove how rare this is, only Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21 KO’s) – the former undisputed Bantamweight champion – seems to have had a similar type of progression in his fights, but it is also important to note that Inoue fought in a much lower weight class which contains less talent than we’ve seen at 135 lbs.

Vasyl Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KO’s) is another example of a professional boxer that has come out to solely fill his resume with opponents that had winning records, but his case is widely different from Keyshawn Davis’ as he compiled a claimed record of of 396 wins and 1 loss before becoming a professional. Having been a multi-gold winning medalist at the Olympics, Lomachenko’s entry into the professional ranks instantly came paired with a higher set of expectations – due to his reputation as arguably the best amateur boxer – that saw him challenge for a world title in just his second fight.

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Vasyl Lomachenko entered the professional ranks as boxing as the most successful amateur boxer in history. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

This makes Keyshawn Davis a true rarity in the sport of boxing. Even the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. have been quite tentative earlier in their career and needed nearly a double-digit number of fights before even facing an opponent with a winning record. Davis is one of few professional boxers whose fought nothing but fighters with winning records in his first couple of fights.

It isn’t just the fact that the fighters Davis fought had winning record that makes him one of the more impressive young fighters. Often, a prospect can fill his resume with boxers sporting winning records who haven’t had that many fights, or have nearly as many losses as they have wins. The same cannot be said for Davis’ opponents.

While his first and third opponent might have had losses that threatened to exceed the amount of times they won, he steadily seems to have specifically picked opponents with around or more than twenty fights under their belt and few losses. Even more impressively, 2022 proved to be a showcase year for Davis as he progressed from fighting Lightweights ranked in the top 300 and 400 to eventually face an opponent close to the top 100 in Juan Carlos Burgos, who he confidently beat by unanimous decision.

Judging on his resume and list of opponents alone, Keyshawn Davis seems well ahead of other prospects. Not even Devin Haney (29-0, 15 KO’s) – the current undisputed Lightweight champion – adorned had such a flattering start to his career. Whereas it would take most prospects two or three years to even get to the point of fighting the likes of Juan Carlos Burgos (35-7-3, 21 KO’s), Davis did so within two and by his seventh match.

There are still question marks surrounding Keyshawn Davis’ abilities in the ring, but with the youngster having displayed both confidence and skill inside the ring, it is likely that he will answer every question put up to him. He is undoubtedly one of the best prospects in boxing today, if not the best, and one can only expect him to further improve as he grows more experienced and older.

To conclude, Keyshawn Davis truly is perhaps a generational talent that can break records faster than even the likes of Devin Haney have. It will be interesting to see where his career will take him as he continues to challenge himself against fighters who are more experienced, have little to nothing to lose and plenty of wins to show they’re not mere journeymen in the sport of boxing. Though he is not yet at a level where he can challenge for a world title, Keyshawn Davis is one fighter that definitely needs to be watched for the near future, as he has already shown himself to be willing to take his career to unprecedented heights.

Trained by the highly-renowned Buddy McIntyre – who is best known for training pound-for-pound fighter Terence Crawford (39-0, 30 KO’s), Keyshawn Davis has everything to prove he may be next on the pound-for-pound list, and if he continues onto the same path, he can legitimately become the next face of boxing. The Viriginia-born and raised fighter already seems to have charisma and self-confidence in spade, and, in time, he can genuinely become the most recognizable boxer on the planet if he continues testing himself against the best available.