BOXING – Muhammad Ali’s grandson fights at Madison Square Garden

Nico Ali Walsh contemplated everything from an old ticket to a scale. He was enchanted by the relics of some of boxing's greatest figures and fun

Nico Ali Walsh contemplated everything from an old ticket to a scale. He was enchanted by the relics of some of boxing’s greatest figures and functions.

Except for one image showing his grandfather receiving a hard left hit to the head from Joe Frazier.

Muhammad Ali’s grandson followed in his footsteps in boxing. And on Saturday, he’ll emulate it, stepping into the ring at Madison Square Garden, where the great fighter did everything from fighting the “Fight of the Century” to serving as a guest referee at wrestling’s first Wrestlemania event.

“This place has sentimental value,” Ali said. “If I wasn’t related to my grandfather, being here would also be something super special, just because of the story. But the fact that he fought here and I haven’t really gone to places like that where he has been, it’s something more special, and I think my family will think the same when he comes here. “

Ali Walsh (2-0 with two knockouts) will fight in what will be the first boxing performance at Madison Square Garden in two years. The card is headed by the fight in the lightweight division between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Richard Commey.

Growing up in Las Vegas, Ali Walsh had never visited New York before this week. He looked like just another tourist on Wednesday, when he inspected the interior of the famous arena.

But his name was displayed on the premises, just as the grandfather or Laila Ali, daughter of the famous boxer, appeared so many times.

“I never imagined this would happen. It’s amazing, really special, ”said Ali Walsh. “As I said, it is not only special because I am a boxer and because this is my career, but for sentimental reasons. This is where my family was. Even my aunt fought here. So I just continue with the story. It is a really special moment ”.

The smallest theater within Madison Square Garden has hosted three recent boxing functions, but this is the first in the main venue since the pandemic prevented or limited fans from the events.

The New York Knicks in basketball and the Rangers in hockey have long been back, as have concerts.

Now it is boxing’s turn.

“It’s great to just have the fans back in this building for all the events,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president of events and operations.

Ukraine’s Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic champion, has drawn crowds to the Garden before. However, the biggest fights now take place in Las Vegas, unlike when Ali was the star of the sport.

Ali fought eight times in the New York arena. He won those fights, except for the first with Frazier, on March 8, 1971. Frazier dropped him in the 15th round and prevailed by unanimous decision to retain the heavyweight title and hand the star his first loss.