Continuing the Ali legacy in boxing’s most famous arena, Nico Ali Walsh pounded out a gutsy four-round unanimous points decision over Reyes Sanchez at Madison Square Garden last Saturday to up his ledger to 3-0, four months after turning pro.
In the building where his grandfather, Muhammad Ali, made so many indelible memories, Ali Walsh scripted an early one of his own.
The 21-year-old squared off against an opponent eight years older and with a 6-0 record. Both fighters came out quick with Ali Walsh shooting a text book left jab. He edged the competitive round, ending it with a good right hook.
Ali Walsh stepped it up in the second stanza, hurting Sanchez with a right and coming close to scoring a knock down with a late barrage. The bell saved Sanchez.
However, his second round exertions seemed to have drained Ali Walsh in the third round. Sanchez came back and had his way with his young opponent, who showed a good chin – at one point taking a good left and right.
The fourth and last round went Ali Walsh’s way again. He caught a second wind and out landed his man.
“I learned a ton,” said Ali Walsh, after receiving a majority decision nod with scores of 38-38, 39-37 and 40-36. “Obviously, I fought against a well-matched opponent.
“He saw my right hand. Obviously, I saw his as well. He was a very skilled opponent. A lot of guys with three fights don’t fight someone like him. But because my career has been fast tracked due to my name and grandfather, I’m fighting these types of opponents like Reyes Sanchez.”
In the same MSG ring that he suffered a freak injury in on his pro debut resulting in a second round TKO loss, “Mighty” Joe Ward needed only 1:35 of the opening stanza to stop Mississippi native Britton Norwood in their scheduled six-round light heavyweight contest.
The 6-foot-one inch Westmeath southpaw, dubbed the next John Duddy, came out behind a powerful right jab while evading the shorter Norwood’s wild swings.
But it would be a right hook to the body that would set up the stoppage. Hurt, Norwood froze as Ward opened up with a barrage of head shots. The American dropped to the canvas but was able to beat the count.
It was a momentary reprieve. When the bout resumed, Ward mercilessly pummeled Norwood again, forcing referee Charlie Fitch to halt the fight.
Ward, a 2016 Irish Olympian, improved to 6-1 [3 KOs]. Norwood dropped to 10-4-1 [7 KOs].
Ward was coming off a six-round unanimous points victory over Brazilian Leandro “Buscape” Silva in Huntington, Long Island, on Nov. 11. He’s been on a trajectory since his unfortunate debut loss to Marco Delgado. That defeat at the Garden was in Oct. 2019 when he blew out his left knee a minute into the second stanza and was unable to continue. He’d atone for that set-back in Puerto Rico last March, easily outpointing Delgado over six rounds.
Managed by Times Square Boxing Co., Ward was an amateur standout. He won gold medals at the European Championships in 2011, 2015 and 2017, silver at the World Championships in 2015 and 2017. He also represented Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKE HOULIHAN