Super middleweight contender “Dangerous” Dyah Ali Davis (20-2-1, 9 KOs) is fighting his way out of the long shadow cast by his father, Howard Davis Jr., who captured a gold medal and was selected Outstanding Boxer of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
Dyah had hoop dreams until realizing in high school that he wasn’t heading to the NBA. Despite his pedigree, he didn’t even think about boxing until he was 23, after watching the Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko fight, which convinced him that he should become a prize fighter.
Seven years later, he’s the No. 9 rated 168-pounder by the World Boxing Council (“WBC”) and World Boxing Association (“WBA”), preparing to headline the first ESPN Friday Night Fight broadcast of 2012, January 6 in against Alfonso “The Tiger” Lopez (22-1, 17 KOs) in Key West, Florida.
Howard was one of the greatest amateur boxers of all-time. A three-time U.S. National lightweight champion, he won 125 of 130 overall matches, including the 1974 World Championships. Even more significantly, though, he was the brightest star on the fabulous USA Olympic Boxing Team, also featuring fellow gold medalists Sugar Ray Leonard, Michael and Leon Spinks, and Leo Randolph.
The only absence on his otherwise impeccable boxing resume is lack of a world title as a professional. Howard had a 36-6-1 (14 KOs) pro record in the eighties and fought three times. for the world title, losing a 1980 decision to Jim Watt in Scotland, dropping a 12-round split decision in 1984 to Edwin Rosario in Puerto Rico, and getting stopped in 1988 by James “Buddy” McGirt.
Neither father nor son, however, has ever talked about what really fuels Dyah’s desire to capture a world title. In fact, learning about his son’s reason brought Howard to tears. “Winning a world title is what I want for me and him,” Dyah said. “When I do that we can cherish it together. I don’t think either one of us will be happier or prouder than the other when that day comes.
“Ultimately, that’s why I set out to do (win a world title), what my father fell short of. I do believe he really won the fight against Rosario. My father is the uncrowned champ and I want that crown for our family. I hope to have that opportunity by the end of 2012, early 2013 at the latest. Two or three more fights but we’ll be better to gauge that timetable after my next fight.”
Dyah understands but doesn’t feel added pressure being the son of a famous boxer. “Fans expect so much from you because you are your father’s son,” he admitted, “but I don’t even think about that anymore. My father had his career and now it’s my turn. The bottom line is it’s good to know I have his support and can learn from his experiences.”
Howard was surprised when Dyah called years ago saying he wanted to become a boxer. Dyah, who now lives in Fort Lauderdale, moved from New York to South Florida in order to train with his father. Howard is a personal/boxing trainer at the famed MMA gym, America Top Team, in Coconut Creek, Florida.
“I would have been the first to tell Dyah that he didn’t have it to box,” Howard commented. “I do see a lot of me in him: heart and determination. He doesn’t quit, trains hard, and never complains. Sometimes I get a little frustrated watching him because he doesn’t see some things I see, but then I remember that he didn’t have any amateur experience at all. Dyah is very dedicated.”
Howard didn’t know his son is driven to succeed, where he failed, winning a world title. “He’s never mentioned that and I never wanted him to win a world title for me,” Howard continued. “I want him to win it for himself. If that’s motivation for him, great, and the day he accomplishes that goal will be a blessing for both of us. I’m extremely close to my son and love him a lot. I’m very emotional and to hear this…. it’s making me cry. I’m touched by his words.”
Howard no longer trains his son, two-time world champion John David Jackson is Dyah’s chief second. He’s promoted by DiBella Entertainment and managed by EDB Sports (Elvis Crespo and Bob Pergament).
One person in Davis’ corner has a unique perspective about 30-year-old Dyah, Craig Gibson, who trained Howard for several of his pro fights. They grew-up together and remain best friends. Over the years, Gibson has worked with world champions Aaron Pryor, Mike McCallum, Riddick Bowe and Livingstone Bramble, to name a few of the more notables.
“Dyah’s got the DNA,” noted Gibson, who is Davis’ assistant trainer. “He has his father’s high intelligence and athleticism. Dyah is so gifted. He has the ability of a world-class athlete but ability and skills are different. When his ability and skill level are balanced, he will be an elite boxer and, I believe, world champion in a year or so. He’s also a classy young man, just like his father. ”
The journey continues for Dyah Ali Davis.