Ishmael Davis On A Mission Heading Into Fight With Under Pressure Troy Williamson

As small hall venues go, the Leeds Banqueting Suite at Elland Road is extremely plush but after boxing there nine times, Ishmael Davis, 12-0 (6 KOs), needed a change of scenery.

Last November the relatively unknown 28-year-old super welterweight made the two-hour journey north on the A1 to Newcastle for a fight with the undefeated Ewan Mackenzie with the opportunity to alter the course of his career.

When he left the ring and sat down in his dressing room after impressively dismantling Mackenzie in eight rounds, a mixture of emotions ran through his body. There was joy and relief at having won the fight but after a long, difficult journey, Davis finally felt noticed. 

The following morning, Davis jumped in the car and made the return trip home to Leeds as a genuine prospect.

“I just felt like people knew me. It felt good. The boxing scene didn’t really know me, it had only been sparring stories before then and I felt a bit accomplished. Now I’m ready to put in a better performance and really put a stamp on the scene,” said Davis, who fights Troy Williamson in Sheffield on Saturday night.

“I don’t do it for the attention. I’m not bothered if people recognise me or stuff like that. I’m just a normal person working hard for something. I do like the attention from boxing people though.”

Davis was still a teenager when he decided to dedicate himself to the sport as he sat in a prison cell. Talented but wayward, Davis split his time between the boxing gym and the roads around the Chapeltown area of Leeds. Eventually, it dawned on him that his life needed to change. 

He may not have spent years competing at the highest level of amateur boxing like some of his contemporaries but Davis has caught up rapidly in terms of ability and believes that being able to learn and develop away from the microscope has helped him. 

The only pressure on Davis to achieve anything comes from himself. When he finally decided to pour his energies into life as a professional fighter, nobody outside of his tight knit team would have expected him to achieve anything but the lessons of his past have taught him just how much he wants and needs to succeed. 

“I feel like you just have less pressure on yourself. You know inside that you’ve done the hard work and there’s no hype,” he said. “Some guys have a lot of people creating hype. You have to believe in yourself and a lot of them probably don’t believe that they can do what other people are saying they can.

“I think I know what I can do. I’ve put in the hard work to get here. These top prospects and top amateurs have got more to lose than me. They can’t have no slips ups. That isn’t what it should be about. It should be about believing in yourself and just trying to reach that goal. 

“I just feel like I’m 5 per cent loaded. There’s a lot to learn and a long way to go but I put 100 per cent into it so I can’t be denied, really.”

For years, Williamson was a fearsome prospect on the domestic scene. His sensational British title winning knockout of Ted Cheeseman back in October 2021 looked like the ideal career launchpad but things haven’t gone as planned. He got off the floor to beat Mason Cartwright in his first defence of the title but has been a virtual shadow of himself since. He first sleepwalked to a virtual shutout defeat to Josh Kelly and was then outpointed by Caoimhin Agyarko last December.

The man from Darlington can’t afford a third high profile defeat and Davis is preparing to encounter a fired up, determined Williamson on Saturday night. He believes that Williamson’s desperation to get his career back on track will play into his hands. 

“I think there’s more pressure on Troy. He feels like he can’t lose this fight. I heard him say that in an interview. I’m ready to take him out in a sense,” Davis said.

“I’m expecting him to be desperate. That’s the wrong thing to do against me. I’ve got a good I.Q and I’m fit and strong. It’s high up on the card. There’s only one more fight before the main event after our fight and I’m gonna put on a good show.

“I’ve known Troy for years. He’s one of my friends but this is business. We’ll see how this plays out. If he comes and it’s the normal Troy that everybody knows; always trying to come forward, always a bit eager and doesn’t react well when he gets caught then it’s gonna be bad for him. I know it’s gonna be bad for him anyway. I’m a man on a mission.”