Keyshawn Davis feels he’s ready for world title now, but won’t let belts define him

Keyshawn Davis (L) knocks down Francesco Patera (R) in his last fight in July. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Keyshawn Davis has cruised through his early competition in the professional ranks, and the unbeaten lightweight prospect doesn’t expect that to change heading into his tenth fight this Saturday.

The Olympic silver medalist from Norfolk, Va. expects Nahir Albright to be aggressive in their ten-round bout, which will serve as the co-feature for the ESPN-televised card at the Fort Bend Community Center in Rosenberg, Texas. The Davis-Albright fight will precede the fight between IBF/WBO middleweight titleholder Zhanibek Alimkhanuly against Vincenzo Gualtieri.

The Philadelphia native Albright (16-2, 7 knockouts) has faced respectable competition in recent years, with his last five opponents combining for a record of 69-3-1, including an upset over 2016 U.S. Olympian Carlos Balderas.

Still, he believes it’s Albright, not himself, who is stepping up in competition.

All the opponents that he lost to or he faced, I would potentially stop them. It’s his first time going ten rounds and he’s fighting the best prospect you can fight in the sport right now. I don’t really think it’s a good business decision for him, but I’m just gonna go in there and dominate sooner than I usually dominate,” said Davis (9-0, 6 KOs) in a video interview with The Ring.

A strong performance against a streaking fighter like Albright could help bolster his case as one of the fastest rising young boxers in the sport, but Davis feels he’s ready now to fight for a world title.

“We don’t have to keep waiting, we don’t have to keep procrastinating. I’m ready for a world title right now. Of course it doesn’t make sense because the landscape of the 135 division is not in the position right now, but I’m ready for a world title fight right now,” said Davis, whose last bout came in July, when he dominated Francesco Patera to a wide unanimous decision in Shawnee, Okla.

The division is on hold at the moment, with undisputed champion Devin Haney set to move up to 140 pounds to face WBC titleholder Regis Prograis on December 9. In the meantime, Davis isn’t planning to wait around to see how the sanctioning body politics play out before making his move.

“I don’t give a f—k about these belts. I want to be a world champion of course,” said Davis, before adding, “I don’t care about, ‘he’s the champion so let me go after this champion.’ No, I’m trying to make these smart fights because ‘OK he can fight, this is gonna be a great fight, so I’m gonna fight you.’ I’m not chasing after no champions.”

Davis goes on to explain how his entire body of work will define him as a champion, and not just targeting a few high profile names. He’s running his own race, instead of trying to catch up to anyone else.

“It’s so early in my career that I can’t really just say that if I beat these one or two guys that I’m the best. It don’t work that way. If I fight [Gervonta Davis] tomorrow and I beat Tank then I say I’m the best, but really no I’m not because I still got a lot more work to do. There’s probably a lot of other champions out there that could probably beat Tank too that he didn’t face yet.

“I just gotta keep fighting to see at the end of the road who is the best. But honestly again, I don’t give a f—k about that either, I’m here to make fun fights that I would like and go about my business. I’m not here to compete like ‘oh I’m the best.’ I’m out here trying to be the best that I can be. But I’m not competing to be the best.”

Davis has been doing the work in the gym to ensure he’s maximizing his potential. In addition to training alongside undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford and multiple division champion Shakur Stevenson, Davis has also been getting tips for Hall of Famer Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Davis says Mayweather has invited him to the Mayweather Gym in Las Vegas for closed door sessions, even holding pads for him and supervising his sparring sessions, along with those of his brother Kelvin Davis (9-0, 6 KOs), who fights on the undercard in an eight-round bout.

“[Mayweather] be calling me now, texting me now, my whole last camp I was in Floyd’s gym,” said Davis.

“If you really look at it, what professional boxers have a circle that is as strong as ours? You got the best prospect, then you got Shakur and Terence Crawford and then outside of our circle you got Floyd Mayweather tapping into our circle? Our circle is really crazy.”

Davis says the plan for now is, well, he doesn’t have a plan. He has already accomplished two of his goals, which were to make the Olympics and sign a respectable promotional deal, and he’s going to let his promoter and matchmakers do their job while he does his.

“Now that I’m in my professional game and I’m happy, I don’t have a plan,” said Davis.

“Of course, [become a] world champion, after that, we’re gonna see.”

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].

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