By Harvey Hudson


BIG-time boxing returned to Leeds on Saturday night (May 25) as Jack Catterall defeated Josh Taylor in their eagerly anticipated rematch at a packed First Direct Arena. Even though neither of the main event fighters originated from the city, the event was a sellout, and the atmosphere was electric. 

It showed that the city is still hungry for more big nights, featuring the next home fighter to get behind. It’s clear what Josh Warrington has done for boxing in the city, selling massive amounts of tickets and packing out arenas with his supporters. 

In the not-too-distant future, it may be the turn of Ishmael Davis, who has just signed a multi-fight deal with promotional giant Matchroom. With their push and backing, Davis could well be on track to bring more big nights to Leeds. 

“Leeds is wanting another big star. Obviously, we’ve still got Josh Warrington, who I believe is still going to do big things again. I feel like everyone always wants someone to get behind and I think I’m the person for the job,” Davis told Boxing News. 

Just a year ago, Davis was fighting at the Elland Road Banqueting Suite before he took back-to-back big fight opportunities with both hands. The support and backing of former world champion Sunny Edwards has been pivotal. 

However, Davis’s “take any fight” attitude has also been instrumental in securing the deal. This was reflected by accepting, without hesitation, an on-paper 50-50 fight last year against Ewan Mackenzie.

As the away fighter, Davis stopped Mackenzie, who was tough and gave his all. It was a gruelling fight until Mackenzie’s corner threw in the towel in the eighth round. In his next fight, Davis again made a statement on the DAZN main card slot by beating experienced operator and former British champion Troy Williamson (below). 

Sheffield, UK: Ishmael Davis v Troy Williamson, Final Eliminator for British Super Welterweight Title
23 March 2024. Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing

What he lacks in amateur experience, he makes up for in work ethic, grit and determination in the ring. He also undoubtedly lives the life of an athlete and has picked up experience sparring with some of the best in the country, in and around his weight category, over the past few years.

With Davis now mandatory for the British, he has put himself in good stead to win meaningful titles and make further statements in the pro ranks. 

“I’m just waiting for Sam Gilley versus Louis Greene. Then I’ll be facing the winner if they want to fight me. Unless they give the belt up,” he said. 

When discussing the Lonsdale belt, being a British man, Davis emphasised the importance of the title, making it clear that it is something he wants to win outright. 

“My mate Dalton Smith has shown me the way and I’ll be wanting to follow in his footsteps,” Davis added. 

Smith won the Lonsdale belt outright after three successful defences last July, halting Sam Maxwell in the seventh.

Davis has touched on his background before boxing in previous interviews, along with the hardships he has faced throughout his life. He makes it clear that boxing has changed his life for the better.

“I feel like I’m a totally different person now, it’s like I’ve left my old body and got in a new one,” he explained. 

“I have different role models now and I’m around people that are doing well and striving for greatness. It’s a massive difference and I’m enjoying the ride and staying humble.

“I believe that I’m made to do this. You know Bernard Hopkins, he was a born fighter and I’m kind of the same. He went to jail and then came out and changed his life. Obviously, he was a world champion for how long? I believe I have the skill and drive to do it. I train hard, I’m in the gym, I listen to my coach and I don’t really go out. I just take this seriously, this game. I believe that I’m going to be the next star out of Leeds.”

Davis has his sights set on achieving great things in boxing and he hopes his new promotional backing will guide him along the way. 

“This is the beginning of something big and I’m going to be remembered as one of Britain’s greatest boxers,” he said.

“I really do feel like I’m going to be the best in my division, and I just have that mindset where I don’t think that anyone can beat me.”

While wanting to achieve great things in the sport, Davis also recognises its longevity and explains that he wishes to follow other pathways in boxing when he eventually hangs up the gloves. 

If his commentary debut at The First Direct Arena on Saturday was anything to go by, one of those pathways could be behind the microphone. Co-manager Sunny Edwards has shone a light on future opportunities and gateways to a new career after boxing.

“Sunny is a massive role model to me and he’s kind of showing me the way. He’s not just thinking about boxing but he’s thinking about after boxing. It’s what we do, it’s our life and I love been there and talking about it and I hope I get to do it in the future,” concluded Davis.