By Elliot Worsell

THERE were countless punches thrown and landed by the 14 boxers involved in Frank Warren’s latest “Magnificent Seven” show in Birmingham on Saturday (March 14), yet none were better than the right uppercut produced by Liam Davies in round two of a super-bantamweight fight between the hours of 11 and 12 o’clock.

The punch, thrown effortlessly and with total ease, cracked the jaw of Davies’ opponent Erik Robles and changed their fight in an instant. It did not finish the fight – there would, for Robles, be more pain to come – but it altered its course, it sent Robles to the floor, and it stole from the Mexican every ounce of resolve and ambition he had taken with him to England earlier that week.

He felt it, in other words. He felt the quality of the shot and the power of the shot. He felt, without knowing it, the history of the shot; this shot Davies had practiced as a child with his grandad, his father, and Andy McFarland at Donnington Boxing Club, then, as a pro, perfected with the help of Errol Johnson at Black Country Boxing (BCB).

“That was my toughest fight on paper and the way I did it – the finish and stuff – was the best possible way,” Davies said to Boxing News. “He’s a great fighter, Robles, and had eight knockouts in the first round. He’s a strong Mexican and they come to win. To do it like that is not the way it normally goes, so I was very happy with it. I’ll give myself a pat on the back for it. But I was still on the phone this morning to my great manager Errol Johnson, saying, ‘What are we doing next, man?’ Because I want to know.”

Increasingly, too, there is interest in Davies and his progress beyond the walls of the BCB gym. Indeed, the more he finishes fights the way he did on Saturday, the more he adds clips to his highlight reel and the more he in turn generates attention. This is important, Davies knows, for it is not easy being a super-bantamweight and expecting the rest of the world to care.

“I’ve proven I’m strong enough to take these guys out and that just adds to the excitement,” he said. “Winning is all that matters but the excitement is what brings more eyes to the show.

“I’m a big, strong super-bantamweight, I’m sparring bigger guys, and I seem to do damage with the bigger gloves and headguard,” he added. “I believe in my power. I didn’t even go looking for it (the stoppage) on Saturday really. It just came naturally. That shows you it’s there without me having to force anything. You need that ability at this level.”

As for how Davies manages to generate such power, the recipe is clear. “One, I train very hard,” he said. “I lift very heavy. It’s also a lot to do with precision and timing. I’m very accurate. You’ve got to do it at the right time.”

Timing, of course, is everything, both in terms the throwing of a punch and the selecting of an opponent and Davies, with the help of his manager, Errol Johnson, appears to have got his spot on so far. In addition to winning British, Commonwealth and European titles, Davies, on Saturday night, secured an IBO super-bantamweight belt, one of the lesser regarded “world” titles but a decent stepping stone nonetheless. More than anything, to win that belt means a bit of history for both Davies’ amateur gym and his current pro gym.

“It’s a blessing for myself but also it’s nice to bring good things to good people,” said Davies, now 16-0 (8). “I’m the first world champion from BCB and the first world champion from Donnington Boxing Club, which my grandad started 30 years ago now. I’m buzzing to be able to bring that to the people who have helped me so much.”

Liam Davies

Davies’ grandad, someone he mentioned in his post-fight interview, was a massive source of both motivation and inspiration for Davies growing up and, although having passed, remains so to this day. The start of it all, in so many ways, because of his grandad Davies now looks a natural fighter benefitting from the drip down effect of being born into a fighting family; a family content to live, breathe, and bleed boxing. In short: he makes it seem easy.

“My grandad was a big influence,” he said. “I spent a lot of time with him travelling up and down the country as a young kid. Even before boxing, I used to spend most weekends with my nan and grandad. He was a judge as well as a coach. If he had any fights on, I’d go along for the journey and come back listening to Abba. He loved a bit of Abba. He always used to say, ‘You can do this!’ You’re never sure whether they’re just saying it because they’re your grandfather and he loves you, but he wasn’t lying, of course. To be able to do it has honestly been amazing.”

As amazing as it has been to fulfil his grandad’s prophecy, Davies isn’t done yet. Rather, he is only just getting started on this ride. He accepts that the IBO belt he currently owns is neither the world title he ultimately wants nor the limit of his potential, and he also realises the importance of capitalising on momentum and making hay while he can.

“This is just the start for me,” said the 27-year-old. “I’m going to carry on and there is plenty more to come. I want to carry this one (belt) and see what I can take next. I think we’re probably talking June or July for my next fight.”

His next fight, rest assured, won’t be against Naoya Inoue, the world’s best super-bantamweight and arguably the scariest fighter in the sport today. However, that is not to say Liam Davies won’t one day find himself looking across the ring at the Japanese star and figuring out ways to beat him and shock the world.

“I think it will happen, definitely,” Davies said. “It’s just a question of when. I’m going to continue cracking on until it happens. I’m not focused on just one person. I’m going to focus on myself.

“I think I have definitely shown that if he (Inoue) wants to come to these shores, or if he’s looking for someone to go in there and have a good blast with him, it’s me. I’m there with nothing to lose and everything to gain. It would be a great fight.

“He’s the best. For me to be able to say I’m the best it’s Inoue that I would have to beat. I understand that it’s a big ask, but I’ve got this mindset that has me believing I’ll go in there and give it my best against anyone. I don’t mind taking a challenge, as I’ve shown, and I’ve got a puncher’s chance against anyone, as well as the skills to go with it. My grandad, who was a big part of me, always said, ‘To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,’ and that’s what I need to do: I need to beat the best. Fights with Inoue are at the top of the tree.

“Many people will say I’m stupid, but they don’t understand boxing. I understand that Inoue has looked like a beast – he has – but I’ve never been knocked out and I believe in myself. Why not go in fucking two feet first? I’ve got myself in the position, so why not have a crack at it? If you don’t, you’re going to say, ‘Could I have done it?’ I don’t want that. I want to say I fought everyone and fought the best. However it works out, I can be proud of that.”

In the end, what drives Liam Davies is both a fearlessness and an unwavering belief in his own ability; to do damage with his punches and to beat the best in the world. It’s this very fearlessness, in fact, that allows him to get creative in fights and throw punches from angles his opponents have often never imagined, much less encountered. It’s also this fearlessness that has you straight-faced when hearing him discuss Naoya Inoue as not just a future opponent but a future victim.

“I don’t fear any of them,” he reiterated. “We all bleed the same and I give myself a chance against anyone. Inoue is a great champion and I would never disrespect him. I’m not even going to call him out or waste my time. But what I’m saying is I’d love an opportunity to fight the best in the division. It’s a two-horse race, man. Anything can happen.”