Ohara Davies on playing the villain to inspire inner-city youths out of gangs and into boxing
"I would never say those things to the average person on the street."
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 11/03/17 4:04pm
Ohara Davies has ruffled plenty of feathers for an up-and-comer with just 15 pro fights. Sky Sports caught up with the talkative Londoner to find out why playing the villain comes naturally…
He had taken on the entire city of Liverpool in a shouting match, beat their hardened representative by knockout, but a week later Ohara Davies was still in the mood for aggro. His eyes were fixed on a high-profile target, when he least expected it.
"I went backstage and confronted him," Davies exclusively told Sky Sports about, of all people, Floyd Mayweather. "I told him 'I've got a problem with what you said'."
I do enjoy playing the bad guy. I looked up to Floyd for years, and he played the bad guy, which inspired me.
It is a brazenness that can be shocking to hear. Mayweather, surrounding by his hangers-on at an event designed for his fans, had not impressed Davies. The legendary American was fixated on telling Davies about Gervonta Davis, his own prodigy, but the Londoner was stone-faced - "Just because he's Floyd it doesn't mean I won't tell him if I've got an issue".
Davies continued: "As fighters we have belief in ourselves, and I'll stand up to anyone.
"I do enjoy playing the bad guy. I looked up to Floyd for years, and he played the bad guy, which inspired me. Being on the stage that Floyd was on is my dream."
Davies, on last week's undercard to David Haye-Tony Bellew, blitzed 51-fight veteran Derry Mathews after a confrontational appearance in his rival's home city of Liverpool. It became clear that he has a naughty streak.
"I loved getting booed, it was amazing. People I've looked up to, Floyd Mayweather and Muhammad Ali, got booed - I've seen all the videos. I said to myself 'I want that experience one day'. The people booing me thought I'd go home crying, but I went home having achieved one of my lifelong dreams.
"I was always an attention seeker - if everybody in my class, at school, was doing one thing then I'd do something else. I've still got those characteristics but I channel them into things that will be progress."
The people booing me thought I'd go home crying, but I went home having achieved one of my lifelong dreams.
Now aged 25, Davies is the first to admit he couldn't always channel his energy positively during an unforgiving upbringing in Hackney, east London.
"It got me into trouble at school, before boxing. For years I was involved in gangs, in trouble, because I always had to be the wild one. As a pro athlete I can channel that into something that will get me paid.
"I am the different one now, but not in a bad way. I can become a role model for people in my area. There's people from the streets, and youngsters, looking up to me. They come up to me, saying they respect what I do. Kids want to get into boxing and ask me what it takes, what it feels like. I didn't have that when I was a kid - if I did, it would have motivated me. I can inspire and motivate other young people.
"People from my area like confrontation on the streets so, when they see me, it will inspire them because I haven't changed who I am as a person."
And there is the great paradox of Ohara Davies, one of Britain's most promising punchers. A volatile wrecking ball in the weeks leading up to a fight and willing to engage an all-time legend in a slanging match, Davies is desperate to stress that he isn't constantly ready to scrap. His sense of child-like mischief can be summed up by anyone who noticed that last week's entrance was borrowed from wrestling icon, The Undertaker.
I felt misunderstood. People can't judge me because of the way I treat one person.
"If I've got an upcoming fight, I will talk smack and be more rude to him than I am to the average person. I was really rude to Derry Mathews but only because we're going to fight - I don't hate him.
"I would never say those things to the average person on the street. People might have felt like I'd be rude if they came up to me for a picture, so I felt misunderstood. People can't judge me because of the way I treat one person."
Ultimately, Davies will be judged how he treats people inside the ring. So far, so good.