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By Rachel Steinberg
Kerry Davis is ready for the inevitable Lauren Price comparisons to begin.
The 25-year-old boxer, who is set to face India's Saweety Boora in her first IBA World Championships in Istanbul on 11 May, shares plenty in common with Price, the Welsh woman set to make her pro debut at Wembley on 11 June.
Both played football before switching to the ring. Both are middleweights. But only one, Price, was world, Commonwealth and Olympic champion. Davis’ journey to change that, which she hopes will conclude on a Paris 2024, podium, begins now.
“After the Olympics it was kind of unsure what [Price] would do,” said Davis.
“When I found out she was turning pro I thought, ‘Oh wow, it’s my turn now. I’ve got to impress. She was the last 75kg, so I kind of felt a bit of pressure. But also I felt like I was ready for it.”
Unlike Ystrad Mynach-born Price, Davis was born in England, finding herself drawn more to fighting than furlongs despite a Cheltenham childhood.
Davis started boxing when she was 16 and had her first serious fight two years later, entering every competition she could in her first two years. Her aim was eventually to land a place on GB Boxing’s performance pathway—the first step in following the fates of Olympic medallists like Nicola Adams, Karriss Artingstall and, yes, Price.
Hard graft pays every time!! HOP boxing academy’s Most dedicated female boxer!🥊 Kerry Davis 2nd GB assessment in 3 weeks and looking sharp champ! @BoxingAwards @kezzadavis8 #winning #champion #boxing dontthinkyoucanknowyoucan 👊🏻 pic.twitter.com/7AvKVRcRdn
— Boxing Awards (@BoxingTutor) July 12, 2018
Davis was among those enthralled by the record-setting April 30th fight which saw Ireland’s Katie Taylor beat Puerto Rico’s Amanda Serrano for the undisputed lightweight title, 1.5 million tuning in for the most-watched female-headlined boxing broadcast in history.
“It was the brutalness of it,” said Davis, who won gold at October’s Balkan Tournament in Bulgaria, “to see that girls can reach that level and put on a show just as much as boys can.
“When I first started boxing I was the only girl in the gym, and, to be fair, I just got treated like one of the lads which was cool as well.
“But for women’s boxing to be recognised now as competitive as the boys is amazing, and I think it will only get better as well.”
Davis has seen her own career escalate upwards too. She tried three times before successfully making the GB squad, and “wasn’t really going to stop until [I] made it.
“I think as soon as you start having those first few fights and you kind of realise that this sport is for you, I think being on GB is the end goal, and it definitely was for me.
“Football kind of went out the window as soon as I started boxing. I love it because it’s an individual sport, so even though it makes it kind of harder you don’t have to rely on anyone else. You get what you put in. So that focus and drive to succeed is also what keeps you going.”
If Davis wants to emulate sparring partner Price’s success on the world stage she'll first have to beat 2014 light heavyweight world silver medallist Boora, more commonly known by just her first name, before beating Germany's Irina Schoenberger in round two of the preliminaries.
— GB Boxing (@gbboxing) April 27, 2022
Price and Artingstall, who in April signed long-term pro deals with promoters BOXXER – are the inaugural athletes taking part in Podium2Pro, which will see them remain at GB Boxing’s Sheffield training base with senior coaches from the World Class Programme, who will also corner the women in their pro bouts—all in exchange for a cut of their earnings.
The programme also allows for the possibility of either woman returning for Paris 2024 if the pathway doesn’t turn out a contender. It’s a possibility Davis refuses to entertain.
And while some might want their prolific predecessor as far away as possible, Davis is quite content to see Price stick around British boxing’s HQ.
“She’s won every major competition there is going,” added Davis.
“Just to be able to have her in the gym still, to ask advice and to spar as well, they’re massive inspirations.
“If they can do it, it kind of gives you that hope that you can too.”