Keyshawn Davis had made a near flawless start to his professional career after nine fights and nine wins. The 2020 Olympic Lightweight silver medallist is tipped for great things but hit a bump in the road against Nahir Albright four months ago. Having won by majority decision, Davis then tested positive for marijuana afterwards. The 24-year-old was hit with a 90-day suspension by the Texas Boxing Commission and saw his win over Albright changed to a no-decision. On Thursday (February 8) Davis is back in the ring against veteran Jose Pedraza. Boxing News spoke to Davis about that suspension, his professional development, Pedraza and more.
Interview by Shaun Brown
BN: How would you assess the three years you’ve had so far in your career and your own development?
KD: I feel like Top Rank did a great job of developing me. They put me in marquee fights on great cards. I’ve fought on Heisman Trophy weekend two times already, now I’m fighting in Super Bowl [week]. Top Rank put me on those right cards, so I’m definitely happy about that, I got no complaints about that at all. Me developing inside the ring, again Top Rank have the best matchmaking. They help me get ready at a fast pace because of their matchmaking. And the reason I’m fighting Jose Pedraza right now is because of the matchmaking and every fight made since. Each fight I get out the ring like, “Ooh, that was fun. I like that, that was good matchmaking.” I always give them credit. I respect how they do things, I recognise, and I’m going to give respect because that’s the type of person I am. Shout out to Top Rank for real.
BN: Having had such a stellar amateur career what are the biggest differences you’ve noticed in the professional ranks?
KD: I feel like people are a lot more sensitive in the pros. When I was amateur, I’d do a lot of the same things that I’m doing pro and people [have] just taken it to extreme measures. I wouldn’t have never thought it would have been that way. And after I do certain stuff, I’d be like, “Damn, I wish I’d never done that.” I would have never known people who are recording my [Instagram] live and putting it on YouTube and make fake media out of it. Saying things that I really didn’t say or the caption [they make]. I feel like since I turned pro I gotta watch what I say a lot. Just a lot of fake media going on out here. That’s outside the ring stuff. But inside the ring I would say it’s more fun, it’s a lot more fun because you get more opportunity to display your talents but also you don’t gotta rush with the things that you do. You can slow it down; you can understand the fight game a lot better now that you’re a professional. It’s fun, a lot of fun.
BN: Did you find it tough to bounce back after the suspension you received for testing positive for marijuana following your fight against Nahir Albright?
KD: I’ll keep it real; I was happy they suspended me. After they suspended me, I was like okay, I just bought my house. So, now I’ve got time to fix up my house and do things I need to do with my brand-new house that I just bought. First-time home buyer, 24 years old, so I’m excited about that. My little brother, he was fighting in the Olympic Trials, so I get to go see him compete in the Olympic Trials which Keon won. And the week after my big brother Kelvin Davis was fighting in Florida. So, I got to experience things I didn’t think I was going to be able to get to. I was like fuck it I’ll take it as blessing in disguise and live my life.
BN: So, your next fight is against Jose Pedraza. What threat does he present to you?
KD: He got experience. Fast, strong, hits hard but I don’t see nothing till I get in the ring with him. Looking on camera I don’t see any physical threats he brings but he has experience and I know he got IQ, I know he know how to set up shots. I know he know how to walk you into a lot of shots that the other fighters couldn’t predict in the ring. I want to see how smart he is in there when I fight him. I’m a very, very smart fighter. Honesty, I don’t see anyone smarter than me out here in the 135lbs division and its gonna show when I fight Jose Pedraza. I just wanna see how smart he is and see if he can walk me into shots and see if the little things, he does actually work on me. I don’t think they will, but I love the fight. This fight gonna bring a challenge and bring the best out in me.
BN: I read in an interview that you believe beating Pedraza makes you a main event fighter. Who would you like that main event to be against in the future?
KD: I would really love to fight [Emanuel] Navarrete. He’s fighting [Denys] Baranchyk for the WBO [lightweight] title. I was also calling out [Vasyl] Lomachenko, the winner of Lomachenko and [George] Kambosos. Who wouldn’t like to fight Lomachenko. He’s a great fighter with a great following. But me just being realistic I’m ranked higher in the WBO and Navarrete’s fighting for the WBO. I would love to fight Navarrete.
BN: How do you see Lomachenko-Kambosos playing out?
KD: I think Lomachenko is definitely gonna win. I got a lot of respect for Kambosos and y’all gonna see the best outta Kambosos, honestly. But I think Lomachenko’s gonna win. Overall, he’s the better fighter.
BN: I also read you’re eager to fight Floyd Schofield. Is there a rivalry between the two of you or is it simply a desire to fight him?
KD: I just feel like that’d be a fun fight. That’d be a fight to promote easily. But honestly, I’m just looking to catch bigger fish out there.
BN: How do you see 2024 going for you? Do you expect by the end of it to be fighting for a world title?
KD: After I knock Pedraza out which will look tremendous, a world title’s definitely around the corner.
BN: And finally, what’s your thoughts on the current state of the lightweight division?
KD: A lotta people is moving out of lightweight. We got Isaac Cruz fighting at 140, Shakur [Stevenson] retired. Tank [Davis] fighting in all type of divisions, never know when he gonna come back to boxing. Teofimo [Lopez] and Ryan Garcia are at 140. Honestly, the ’35 division still has a lot of fighters there but it’s not as popular as it used to be. I’m just happy that I’m still here and if all the rain comes to me then possibly, I can make a lot of big fights happen starting with this Jose Pedraza fight. Hopefully we get Navarrete by the end of this year.