Keyshawn Davis no fan of a healthy diet, but loves what it allows him to do in the ring

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - APRIL 08: Keyshawn Davis of the United States taunts Anthony Yigit of Sweden during their WBC and WBO Lightweight match at Prudential Center on April 08, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

With his health issues behind him, Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis will resume his pursuit of a world title Saturday in Rosenberg, Texas. (Elsa/Getty Images) (Elsa via Getty Images)

Keyshawn Davis is just 24 years old, and a professional boxer for just over two full years. Yet his nickname, “The Businessman,” reflects the esteem with which many who know him hold him.

He’s already bought three properties and is working toward a life where he doesn’t need to work 9-to-5 after his boxing career is over. He’s learning about investment and finance and not seeing his money go out the door seconds after it comes in.

He’s one of the sport‘s top prospects, a 2020 Olympic silver medalist who profiles in the professional ranks as a multi-division world champion. He’s 9-0 with six knockouts and seems headed inexorably toward a showdown somewhere down the line with Cuban Andy Cruz. Davis won silver at the Tokyo Olympics, at the 2019 world championships and at the 2019 Pan American games, losing in the finals each time to Cruz.

Davis projects to be a better professional than he was an amateur and a fight with Cruz one day will be a big one. On Saturday in Rosenberg, Texas, he continues the journey when he fights Nahir Albright in the co-main event of a Top Rank show that will also include other American silver medalists Richard Torrez Jr. and Duke Ragan.

Davis left home at the tender age of 17 to pursue his boxing career full-time, and it seems like it’s about to be paid off. But it was nearly derailed by a problem few would ever expect a fit, world-class professional athlete to encounter.

In 2022, Davis’ less than ideal diet caught up with him. The burning sensation he felt wasn’t a heart attack, but it was a bad case of acid reflux. It interrupted his sleep and led to a series of other issues. Anyone who has had it knows how uncomfortable it can be, and it’s particularly daunting for an athlete who has to rely on his or her body.

“I had the acid reflux real, real bad,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “I had no idea how to deal with it and it was giving me a lot of problems.”

A poor diet is one of many causes of acid reflux and Davis laughingly admitted his wasn’t the best. He avoided the pizzas, but chuckled and said chicken wings were a favorite. Sugar Ray Leonard, though, didn’t win a gold medal and five world titles wolfing down buckets of wings.

That’s not unusual, though, for young people to have poor diets. Many 20-somethings subsist on a diet of beer and wings, though not many are finely tuned athletes like Davis. Before he had gotten a diagnosis, he made a trip to the hospital and he was sent home quickly.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 10:  Keyshawn Davis punches Juan Carlos Burgos during their lightweight bout at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Experts say Keyshawn Davis (R) has all the tools to be a star. (Al Bello/Getty Images) (Al Bello via Getty Images)

It was frustrating because he was in camp for a fight and was not feeling right, but experts didn’t have an answer at first.

“The first time I had it, the hospital didn’t tell me what was wrong with me,” he said. “They sent me home and this was during camp. They sent me home that night while I was still feeling sick and couldn’t tell me what was wrong. They just gave me some numbing stomach medicine and were just like, ‘Try to sleep it off.'”

Fortunately for Davis, the problem was eventually solved. He was put out and did an endoscopic procedure, where a rod with a camera could look at his esophagus and stomach and determine what was up.

Armed with a diagnosis, Davis went to the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, where the staff there put him on a strict diet. He’s been feeling better and, notably, performing better since, even though he still occasionally longs for the days of his old diet.

“I don’t really like eating healthy, but I love how it makes me feel,” Davis said. “And so it is what it is. This is what I have to do and so I’m doing it.”

And healthy, he can focus on improving his game and fulfilling his vast potential.

“I’m fully confident going into this fight because I could prepare like a champion and do the things you need to do to reach that level,” Davis said. “The last fight, I was fighting with a stomach ache my entire fight. Now, I know when I’m sparring or running real hard, I am not going to get sick after that. And because of that, I can say that I feel people are going to be impressed when they see what I’m all about now.”

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