Drained Kody Davies suffers defeat to inspired Umar Sadiq

Drained Kody Davies suffers defeat to inspired Umar Sadiq

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

By Dewi Powell: The plan was for Pontllanfraith’s Kody Davies (10-1, 3KO) to drop a weight division and build towards domestic titles but an ambitious experiment with the scales backfired and left London’s inspired Umar Sadiq (10-1, 6KO) on hand to capitalise.

The scorecards for the British title eliminator were 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 in favour of Sadiq and there were few complaints when it was announced. The former accountant was far more energetic in his home city and, crucially, in the super-middleweight division as he set a blistering pace for the full 10 rounds.

“I don’t want to say too much and make too much out of it…” divulged Davies, aware that boxing is littered with anecdotes about boxers struggling to lose weight. “It was very hard work and I had to sacrifice a lot.

“It was always a question in the back of my mind; whether I can make it [super-middleweight], whether I can perform at that weight, whether I can pursue my career at that weight. I decided to give it a go, obviously it didn’t come out the way we wanted it to, so I’ll go back to light-heavyweight and pick up from there.”

Frustratingly, Davies was at the same venue five months earlier and had already won an eliminator at light-heavyweight. However, his unanimous decision over Zak Chelli didn’t amount to much in the eyes of the BBBoC, who ordered a fight between Craig Richards and Shakan Peters for the British title vacated by Joshua Buatsi.

Davies said: “I think my promoter could’ve done more, a lot of people could’ve done more to get me in that circle of names to be called up for a British title fight. I won a British title eliminator, and I know you can go on and have a final eliminator, but the bottom line is, I boxed in a British title eliminator and I was no closer to a British title than before the fight. It didn’t make sense really.”

There was no doubt that Davies looked aesthetically impressive on the scales but behind closed doors, the drop from 175lbs to 168lbs put a serious strain on his body. The 25-year-old made a weight he hadn’t seen since his teens and the 30 hours between the weigh-in and the fight wasn’t enough time to refuel. To put it into a wider context, Davies was a muscular heavyweight as an amateur, weighing well over 200lbs as recently as 30 months ago. He didn’t need hindsight to know everything had to go perfectly when dealing with such fine margins but Davies admits to unknowingly scoring a crucial own goal.

“I don’t think there’s anybody else on the planet who has dropped 25 kilograms [55lbs]. We tried it out, me and Gavin [Rees – trainer], we did everything perfectly up until the weigh-in. After the weigh-in, I started eating junk. I shouldn’t have, I should’ve kept it clean up until after I boxed. I overloaded my body with fluid and junk food and I think that paid dividends in the fight. It just wasn’t my night,” said Davies, the statement tinged with a tone of confession.

“I don’t regret it. I trained to make super-middleweight, it was obviously a step too far. I learned that in the fight. Thankfully, I didn’t get hurt with nothing but I found out I’m a natural light-heavyweight. That’s where I’m going to carry out the rest of my career.”

Davies and Sadiq fought on even terms in the opening rounds. Both boxed at mid-range and tried to work their way in without risking too much. The Welshman was the first to make his mark, unloading hooks when Sadiq squared up on the ropes. Soon after in the second round, Sadiq sent a series of long single shots towards Davies, who was reduced to throwing in short spurts. Sadiq seemed aware that he couldn’t win a fencing match and he upped the ante in the third round. His activity increased and it gave Davies the opportunity to land a southpaw hook but that success was short lived. Sadiq was undeterred and stuck to his tactics, even when Davies took a step back to create space for some solid body shots in the fourth round.

He said: “After the fourth round, I was just fucked, I couldn’t do much else. I hoped for the best but it didn’t come off. As devastating as it was at the time, I’m over it now. A lot of people have been saying that up until the end of the fourth round, I was looking okay but I can tell you now, from the minute I woke up that morning, I knew it was going to be a tough night. I was doing some pads in the changing rooms, I was absolutely fucked then and my legs were like cement.”

Only a brief warning to avoid head clashes interrupted the pair in the middle rounds. Sadiq wasn’t the most accurate puncher but he didn’t stop occupying Davies’ attention, reversing any momentum gathered. Davies feinted a lot in the middle rounds, trying to dummy his attacks and go to safer spaces in the ring, though it wasn’t enough to win rounds and his depleted energy levels were obvious. Gavin Rees was waiting to read the riot act in the corner and he did, asking Davies if he needed to throw the towel in. It was a rhetorical question, of course, and got the response required.

Davies reintroduced his jab in the eighth round and briefly regained control. It helped him to launch a huge assault, which started with a left cross and was followed by every other punch in the book, including the kitchen sink. Sadiq was forced to cover up and he lasted, even managing to respond before the round finished. It was Davies’ last roll of the dice and he didn’t hit the jackpot.

“I haven’t got the bottle to watch it back yet. It still hurts, so I haven’t really tried yet. I didn’t get hurt in the fight, I just didn’t have no gas, and it’s as simple as that. I didn’t have no energy, nothing at all. I starved my body so much, I didn’t have no reserves,” offered Davies, explaining the unforeseen factors that dictated his largely dormant performance. “Gavin was talking to me in the corner and we discussed a few things. I decided the best thing for me to do was ride it out for as long as possible and look for one big shot. I didn’t have it in me to do anything else. That’s what I tried, I landed the shot but I didn’t have enough. I’ve learned a valuable lesson.”

Sadiq’s shots flicked away for the final two rounds, his quantity out-doing any quality Davies could find the energy for. Davies looked resigned to defeat when the final bell rang, though Sadiq is an example of how to bounce back from a first professional loss. Sadiq was beaten the aforementioned Chelli in 2018.

The show was promoted by Frank Warren and featured several up-and-comers, live on BT Sport, to begin a big night of boxing. It served as an appetiser to Tyson Fury’s destruction of Deontay Wilder for the WBC world title in Las Vegas. The heavyweight’s troubles outside of the ring were well documented and Davies has faced his own personal tragedy. The reverberations from the unexpected and sudden loss of his older sister, Jade, a year ago are still being felt and its helped Davies to put his first professional loss into perspective.

He said: “I give all credit to Umar Sadiq, he did what he needed to do. Nevertheless, I think he was lucky to catch me on a day like that but it is what it is, I lost the fight and I’m going to move on. It gives me strength knowing that there’s a lot more outside of boxing. All my life revolved around boxing so it was nice to realise boxing isn’t everything.”

All of Davies’ post-fight analysis is delivered deadpan, a manner of self-assessment that’s rarely found in boxing, a sport where reputations and perceived appearances are usually protected above all else. Egos can be fragile but Davies doesn’t hesitate to publicly unpick his flaws and he believes that’s why he’ll eventually succeed and achieve his goals.

“I’m real, that’s what sets me apart from everyone else. No-one else is real anymore, especially in boxing. Everyone talks shit, plays the blame game and changes trainer after they lose. It is what it is. You win some, you lose some. It’s not an attitude I’ve had before but it’s an attitude I’ve had after my last fight. You realise what’s important and what’s not as important as you once thought. I’m just going to crack on, keep moving forward and hopefully get a good living and leave a legacy. That’s all I can do.”

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

Image by Queensberry Promotions.

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