‘From the hood to Vegas’: London boxer Davies set to follow in DeGale and Theophane’s footsteps by forging a name in the U.S

LAS VEGAS: Ohara Davies has come a long way in life.

I met him for the first time when he was in his late teens/early 20s, when Tunde Ajayi was his coach and mentor, and he trained at the Peacock Gym in Canning Town, East London.

He was always confident in his abilities and where he would end up in the sport, but, he told me when he was much younger, that the sport took him away from a life of trouble — of drugs, weapons, and even attempted murder.

Friends of his have been murdered — gunned down in Hackney, a district in London in which crime has historically thrived.

It wasn't that Davies was going nowhere in life, rather somewhere much worse. "I could be in jail right now," he told ProBox TV this week, ahead of his Golden Boy Promotions debut against Ismael Barroso at the Virgin Hotels — an off-strip resort in Las Vegas, his promoter Oscar de la Hoya's new hometown.

"I speak to people sometimes and, like, they let me know how proud they are of me. And they remind of me how far I've come, and I think about it, 'Wow,' but I've still got far to go. I'm going to go as far as I can, then I'll look back when I'm at the top having made some money.

"From the hood to Las Vegas … it feels good," said Davies. "I've just got to stay level-headed and not get stupid or distracted just because I'm here."

Davies is making big strides in America

There's been a mentality switch in recent years for Davies, who used to play a villain role in the sport despite the twinkle in his eyes, signature smile, and jovial tone to his voice.

He's making a good impression to those at Golden Boy, as he has been learning Spanish via Duolingo for the past few years, and talks to de la Hoya, and Golden Boy President Eric Gomez, in Spanish.

Davies even introduced himself to the Las Vegas media this week in Spanish, prompting a funny response from de la Hoya, who chimed in with: "Muy bueno Espanol. Jesus, better than mine."

The 31-year-old is following in the footsteps of other British boxers like James DeGale and Ashley Theophane who left England's capital of London to compete routinely in the U.S., and try and forge a name over here.

Though he's making big strides behind the scenes, the thing that matters most is delivering in the ring.

"I've got to make a statement," Davies told me. "But know that this is what I do naturally. I'm always exciting. I've got plenty of knockouts."

Davies wants to deliver yet another knockout Saturday, to advance his pro record to 26 wins (19 KOs) against two defeats, and, while he's loathe to relocate from London, he's eager set up more fights in America.

"I'd rather fight here and have my camps out there and come here."

Davies could be spoiled for choice when it comes to opponents at Golden Boy — de la Hoya recently signed terms with Arnold Barboza Jr., he's linked to Jose Ramirez also, and the company of course also has box office star Ryan Garcia on its books.

"The Garcia fight is there, few other fighters who are signing I've heard, but first, I've get to get through Barroso."

The Davies vs. Barroso bout features on a main card DAZN is broadcasting which also features Barboza, and a headline fight between Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Fredrick Lawson.