Unbeaten Welshman Kody Davies speaks to Danny Flexen about his fight with Zak Chelli and how he has been affected by tragically losing his sister
Tragedy struck Welsh prospect Kody Davies in January when, following a sudden illness, his older sister Jade tragically passed away. Within a short space of time, Davies lost his biggest supporter and became his family’s eldest sibling, a heavy responsibility during a time of great grief. Many boxers may never have entered the ring again, but the 6ft 1in southpaw found renewed motivation in his suffering and returned from almost nine months out in June. On September 14, at York Hall, he takes part in a British light-heavyweight eliminator with fellow unbeaten Zak Chelli.
“I was due to go to New York to fight,” recalls the 25-year-old from Newport, as trusted trainer and former top world champion Gavin Rees listens intently in the background. The pair are driving home from sparring at the Ingle Gym in Sheffield. “I was in the shape of my life, and it happened the day before I was due to fight out there; I was just coming to the end of a long camp and that happened.
“She was only 30 years old, we were very very close. She used to sort all the buses out for my fans to travel to the fights, sell our merchandise, sort my tickets sales; she was a massive part of my life and career. I have three younger siblings and it was the worse time ever of our family’s lives, the worst thing imaginable. But we are pulling together now, we have to believe she’s with us and anything good we do now is in the name of my sister.”
A touching sentiment and one supported by the inscription of Jade’s name on Davies’ fight shorts and the t-shirt he wears after a contest to honour her memory. He seems refocused on his career now but if his mind were to wander, Chelli is talented enough to take advantage. Davies is 9-0 (3) and was a standout amateur, a GB rep boasting myriad national titles. That said, turning pro without a major promoter has delayed Kody’s progression and Fulham’s Chelli will be only his second opponent with a winning record. Now aligned with promoter Frank Warren and managers S-Jam Boxing, Davies is keen to make up for lost time.
“I’d never really heard of Zak, but this fight presented itself to me, then I had a little look,” he admits. “We wanted to stay at super-middle to be honest but Chelli wouldn’t accept it at super-middle, so we’re stepping up to light-heavy now. I’d like to move back down after; the older I get the harder it’s gonna be so while I’m still fairly young I’ll get down to super-middle while I can.
“I don’t want to be fighting journeymen. It’s been a bit of a tricky one, I had a couple of fights down in The Valleys, at leisure centres, then I signed with David Haye but that all dried up after he lost to Tony Bellew. I’m settled with Frank Warren now and hopefully I’ll get some good, meaningful fights. I’m willing to fight anyone, me and Gavi are always training and up and down the country sparring.”
That gym work has seen Davies swap educated blows with the esteemed likes of George Groves, Billy Joe Saunders, Chris Eubank Jr and Callum Smith. He picks Saunders as the best “by a mile” and while this level of sparring will be hugely beneficial, his greatest asset may well be his trainer. Rees, who stepped in before a Welsh national semi-final when Kody’s father’s license expired, has been there and done it all, and crucially has learned from his own mistakes.
“The first thing I noticed about Kody was that he was 95kg!” Rees deadpans. Gavin captured his WBA belt at super-lightweight which, during his prime, was at least one division above where he probably should have been competing. “He now fights at 77kg, so he was 18kg over what he is now. I could tell he was overweight, slower on his feet. It was muscle, but unless you’re a heavyweight you can’t be bulky like that. There are some massive punchers up at cruiserweight and if you can make super-middleweight you’re not a cruiserweight.
“He’s got more discipline than I had; I liked too many beers. As soon as you’ve got a fight date you’ve got to stop and start dieting properly. Years ago, when there was no social media, it was a lot easier to get away with it, do what you want to do, but if he ever went to the pub now I’d have someone telling me within 20 minutes. He’s a man now, there’s no point messing around.”
The last word goes to Davies who, having survived unthinkable pain, is looking ahead and desperate to inspire some welcome happiness.
“I’m only in boxing for one thing, to reach the top, stay there and leave a legacy,” he states, with conviction. “To create a better life for me and my family in the future.”