When Liam Davies impressively dethroned the slick, tricky Marc Leach to win the British super bantamweight title in June, he looked every inch the ascending talent.
He rides that momentum into this weekend’s tough European title fight with Ionut Baluta but don’t try telling Davies that he is favoured to beat the all-action Romanian. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
It doesn’t matter how much friends, fans or pundits flatter him as the fight draws near, Davies will keep telling himself that he is an underdog.
“I want people to doubt me. It helps me get the bit in between my teeth,” Davies told 32Red. “That’s how you become big in the game.
“I look back at when Tyson Fury came back and fought Deontay Wilder. My own view was that he didn’t really have much of a chance. He went and fought in the fashion he did, got a draw and then went back and beat him twice. That’s what made him so I don’t mind being the underdog. I’m fully confident in myself.
“I’m out to prove myself”
“I feel like I deserve to be here and I proved a lot of people wrong in the last one. It might be that way again with this fight but I’ve done it before and it’s not new territory for me anymore. You always get people who still don’t believe but in this one I’m out to prove myself again.”
Baluta promises a hard night’s work. His non-stop style has accounted for Brad Foster, David Oliver Joyce and former world champion, TJ Doheny ,and he pushed Michael Conlan to a split decision.
Unbeaten Davies, 26, is becoming something of a draw in the Midlands. Tickets fly out from the bar his dad runs underneath his gym and lots of fighters in his position would have been content to see out the year by defending their newly won British title before plotting a route to the top in 2023. Not Davies.
He wanted to push onwards and upwards quickly. He might be only 12 fights into his career but the thought of taking on Baluta didn’t curb his ambition at all. Baluta has the edge in experience but Davies believes he holds the advantage in almost every other department.
“People think this guy’s a killer – I don’t see it”
“I asked for it after the last fight. I wanted the European title and to move on as quickly as I could. They offered it me and I snapped their hand off. I’d have taken this fight before the Leach fight even to be honest. Leach had a belt so that one came first. But people seem to think that this guy’s a killer and I just don’t see it,” Davies said.
“Last time we spoke, I was talking about how Leach might have fought these different people and it’s the same here. I’m a different kettle of fish to Brad Foster, Michael Conlan and David Oliver Joyce. It’s gonna be a totally different fight and I think this guy is gonna get a shock because he isn’t expecting that.”
On paper the fight looks like being a hard fought, high energy battle. Baluta has scored just three stoppages in 18 fights and Davies has stopped five of his opponents but that may not tell the whole story.
Davies dropped and hurt Leach in the opening round of their fight and has shown that if and when he can track his opponents down, he can be a ruthless finisher. Davies feels that if Baluta steps into the ring thinking that he knows what to expect, he is in for a nasty surprise.
“In a hundred fights I’ve never been knocked out”
“I think the power will show,” he said. “I got to Leach but it’s hard to connect when somebody is moving back and in and out. You don’t get the full connection. This guy is gonna be there to walk onto them which is gonna play into my hands massively.
“I believe it’s one of the things that will shock him. I don’t know what they’re thinking. He’s saying he’s gonna knock me out in a round. But I’ve had over a hundred fights and never been knocked out. I don’t know if that’s just hoping. Coaches talk people up don’t they? I understand that but this is going to be a difficult fight for him. It means an awful lot to me.”
In June, Davies had barely reached his dressing room with his newly-won British title before his mind started wandering, dreaming of even bigger and better prizes. He is determined that as special as that night was, it doesn’t become the highlight of his career.
“It’s not enough. It’s something I look on and be happy with. But when it was done I was thinking, ‘This isn’t enough.’ I want as much as I can get from this sport.
“This is a good fight and it brings interest. This is a fight I’ll be victorious in.”