My grandad is Muhammad Ali – now I’m following his path as boxer but I’ve turned down huge payday out of respect for him
NICO ALI WALSH has such respect for his iconic grandfather that no amount of money could convince him into a cash-grab fight.
The middleweight prospect has quite possibly the greatest ever boxing shoes to fill as the grandson to Muhammad Ali.
So far, Nico has forged his own path to success in the ring with a 9-1 record but his iconic surname will always be able to make him millions.
Although the American is uninterested in profiting from a crossover-style spectacle bout if it means his grandfather’s legacy takes a hit.
Nico told SunSport: “I have so much respect for this legacy, it’s bigger than me. I can’t be selfish with it because a lot of people care for it.
“Just going to Africa and seeing so many people chant, “Ali” just for the love and respect they have for my grandfather was crazy.
“So, this legacy is bigger than me. I can’t be greedy and be like, ‘I’m going to do a money-grab and start fighting YouTubers.’
“That’s insane, I didn’t get into boxing for the money. I think the money will come in time and I love what I’m doing right now, taking the long road.
“I want to be champ one day, I want to get to that undisputed level and you can’t do that fighting YouTubers.”
Nico, 23, has continued to be linked with a clash against social media star-turned prizefighter Jake Paul, 26.
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And despite distancing himself from it, Nico praised Paul for his first-round knockout win over boxer Andre August.
He said: “I’ve got to say, Jake Paul, he keeps getting popped up but I give him a ton of respect.
“His last fight he fought a legitimate boxer, a no-name boxer and I heard he did well.
“That’s what it’s going to take to get to contender status, to get to champ status, to get to a title fight.
“It’s going to take fighting someone that nobody knows about, not making any money from it.
“Just building your resume and then just fighting for millions one day.”
Paul claimed an offer to fight Nico was respectfully declined in the past.
Giving his side of the story, Nico said: “I don’t remember if there was ever a legitimate offer but we’ve made it very clear that we don’t want something like that, respectfully.
“We respectfully decline anything like that and it is out of respect for my grandfather, it is out of respect for the legacy that I’m trying to build, it’s out of respect for the career I’m trying to build for myself.
“Once you’re categorised in that category it is so hard to break out of that cast.”
Tommy Fury, 24, insisted he was going to beat Paul and then return on his path to world championship boxing.
But after edging past Paul, the ex-Love Islander went straight into facing YouTube sensation KSI, 30, winning controversially on points.
The foray into the world of influencer boxing has left Fury laughing all the way to the bank – but his title ambitions are now seen as the joke.
And Nico said: “I know Tommy, love Tommy, he’s an awesome dude, the Furys are awesome but it’s options you’ve got to weigh.
“There’s two options, on one hand you’ve got life-changing money and on the other hand you’ve got a boxing legacy.
“So you can’t fault anybody for picking one or the other but in my case I will always side with legacy over money.”
Nico recently returned with victory in Guinea, beating Noel Lafargue by split-decision over six rounds.
The bout – documented in an OnlyFans series called Rise & Grind – gave the boxing prodigy the chance to bounce back from his first ever loss.
He said: “It was super relieving. It’s crazy because nowadays in boxing people value your record more than your ability almost.
“And that kinda sucks because I’m such an old school guy, I’m only 23-years-old but I’m an old head.
“And I respected these guys coming up; my grandfather, George Foreman, Joe Frazier all those old school guys, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard.
“These guys didn’t care about records they cared about putting on awesome fights and nowadays it’s just not like that.
“So when I did get that loss, me personally I took it as a learning experience but for the world of boxing, for the viewing of boxing I thought, ‘This could really do some damage.’
“Because people value that record so much but coming back off that it makes your comeback even more when there’s a minor setback.”
- Nico’s episode of “Rise & Grind” is now available to watch on OFTV
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