Biaggio Ali Walsh is finally turning pro, but for the grandson of Muhammad Ali, leaving the amateur ranks feels like nothing more than a formality.
Given his family lineage, Walsh (0-0) took advantage of an opportunity to grow up in front of fans as a featured amateur fighter at big PFL events. His third fight as a 1-1 amateur took place at the 2022 PFL Championships, which led to four more appearances – all of which were knockouts.
On Feb. 24 at PFL vs. Bellator: Champions in Saudi Arabia, Walsh will finally enter the cage as a pro fighter. His first test will be against a 19-year-old with a record of 1-0, Emmanuel Palacio.
For Walsh, other than getting paid as a professional, nothing else really changes.
“Just another fight, and that’s the truth,” Walsh told MMA Junkie Radio. “It really is just another fight. The cage that they build in Saudi is the same cage that they built in D.C., Atlanta, New York – it’s all really the same thing. …
“Maybe it would be a little different if – like I remember before my first PFL fight, I fought in southern Utah, and that was in like a warehouse on a barn. Then from that fight, I went to the prelims of the championship card on ESPN in Madison Square Garden. So that’s a pretty big jump. I remember before that fight I was going to sh*t my pants, but I’m kind of used to that stage now and all the illusion around. I’m used to it now. This is no different fight, really. I just plan on going in there, being a bully, and giving people what they want to see.”
Walsh’s path to becoming a pro is truly unique. Major televised MMA events simply do not feature amateur fighters. But Walsh did it on five occassions and excelled each time out.
Perhaps more important than growing his physical tools, has been the experience of being under the bright lights of a PFL production. Walsh admits he wanted to prove to himself that he was in the right place before turning pro, and he believes his amateur run helped him realize he’s on the correct path.
“I think the biggest question that I had was: Am I doing the right thing?” Walsh said. “Because I remember the PFL came to us when I was 0-1 as an amateur. I’m thinking like, I’m 0-1. Like, what? Do you guys see potential in me? What is it? The name? And it’s both. I think they see the potential in me, and the name is just the cherry on top. …
“You’ll never hear me saying that I’m fighting for a belt or for money, or anything like that. I’m fighting so that one day I can be a mentor like my coach, and his coach, and help athletes who have been playing a sport and then they stop playing and don’t know what to do with their life, like myself. That’s the same thing I went through right before I got into MMA.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for PFL vs. Bellator: Champions.