The recent history of the WBC’s Prospect of the Year award reads like a Who’s Who of rising stars and potential greats. Vergil Ortiz in 2019, still undefeated and with a 100% knockout rate, currently preparing for his first world title fight. Mark Magsayo, who won the WBC featherweight belt just a few weeks after receiving the honor in 2021. Sebastian Fundora, who was recognized by the WBC in 2020 and stands ready for his mandatory shot at Jermell Charlo.
Joining that proud fraternity in 2022 is perhaps the biggest name of all: Muhammad Ali(’s grandson).
Nico Ali Walsh— World Boxing Council (@WBCBoxing) January 16, 2023
Congratulations to @NicoAliX74 for winning Prospect of The Year 2022!
Nico made his debut in 2021 and this 2022 he showed that he is ready to write his own history as this year he had 4 fights with 4 wins, 3 of them by KO.#BestofWBC22 pic.twitter.com/ZPAQK0il0y
Ali, honored despite the notable handicap of having died in 2016, remains among the most famous names in boxing and across all sports. He was named Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Century,” “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC, one of Life Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century,” and, presumably, “World’s Greatest Grandpa” by the novelty coffee mug association.
Any shortlist of Ali’s accomplishments feels offensively incomplete. He was an Olympic gold medalist, a three-time lineal heavyweight champion, a six-time Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year, and an inaugural member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Beyond boxing, Ali was nominated for two Grammy awards, lit the Olympic cauldron in 1996, and knocked out Superman himself in DC Comics #C-56. Now, Ali(’s grandson) has also been named the WBC Prospect of the Year.
Ali(’s grandson) won the 2022 honor over fellow nominees Diego Pacheco, Jared Anderson, Richard Torrez, Marc Castro, and Nick Ball. Critics of the announcement have pointed out that Ali(’s grandson) is the third-best Top Rank undercard fighter and the second-best boxer with a first name that starts with N-I-C among the nominees. But, none of the other contenders for the honor even have grandchildren, which almost certainly doomed their chances.
Not included among the WBC’s 2022 Prospect of the Year nominees was Keyshawn Davis, a near-universal choice for the honor elsewhere. Davis, a 23-year-old Olympic medalist with a professional record of 7-0 (5 KO), was named 2022’s Prospect of the Year by ESPN, Ring Magazine, and Dan Rafael, among many non-WBC others, because of his tantalizing mix of high skill, power, and entertaining style. But, Davis has neither a pocketful of peppermint candy nor a rocking chair for whittling.
Will 2023 be the year that Davis closes the gaps in his prospect resume, trading in his traditional ring walk entrance robe for a loose-knit cardigan, magically pulling quarters from behind the ears of dazzled fans? Only time will tell.
Accepting this award on behalf of Muhammad Ali(’s grandson) is Nico Ali Walsh. Walsh is the son of author and actress Rasheda Ali, and seems to have taken an interest in the family business. He’s made a number of appearances on cable television and has even done a little boxing, though never against anyone ranked among BoxRec’s Top 500 middleweights. Best wishes to him, and congratulations to the Ali family for this honor!