When super middleweight Dyah Davis steps back into the ring this Sunday at the Seminole Casino in Immokalee, Florida, he’ll be a sentimental favorite for many boxing fans. His father, Howard Davis Jr., was a beloved figure in the sport and passed away from cancer only a little over a month ago.
On a press release sent out today by King’s Promotion, Davis, who has been inactive for 17 months, spoke about his connection with his famous father: “I found my motivation with the passsing of my father…His spirit is in me. My father was my best friend.”
His father was also a member of the greatest U.S. Olympic boxing team in history, the legendary 1976 squad. He was one of five members to win gold, along with the Spinks brothers, Leon and Michael, and Sugar Ray Leonard and Leo Randolph. Although Leonard emerged as the big star of the Games, Davis actually won the Val Barker trophy, given the Game’s outstanding boxer.
Howard Davis never became a world champion as a professional, but was a top contender during the 1980s. He came up short in three title bids, losing to Jim Watt by unanimous decision in 1980 and Edwin Rosario by split decision in 1984. In 1986, he was knocked out in his final title bid in the first round, by James McGirt, one of the top fighters of the decade.
Dyah Davis’ opponent for this fight is Edgar Perez, a professional opponent. After winning his first five bouts between 2007 and 2011, he’s dropped 17 of his last 18. Among the fighters who have beaten him are Jermall Charlo, Antoine Douglas and Yunieski Gonzalez.
Perez is probably an appropriate opponent for Davis after 17 months inactive and so soon after suffering a family tragedy. But the truth is, he’s 34 and probably nearing the end of a respectable, though pedestrian, career. He was stopped by Sakio Bika in June 2012 and lost 10 of 12 rounds to James DeGale in Novemeber 2013. His last fight was in August 2014, a unanimous decision loss to Donovan George, which was ruled a No Contest when George failed a drug test.
But Davis has beaten some decent fighters, like Francisco Sierra, Marcus Johnson and Alfonso Lopez. If he can make another run toward contender status, he will have a true, feel-good story, and one that even hard-bitten boxing fans will embrace.