Boxing is in the blood of American Top Team’s boxing coach Dyah Davis, and so is teaching. The former super middleweight pugilist really has taken to this coaching thing.
Now semi-retired, Davis, 37, still spends his days at the gym. Albeit in a different capacity for very different reasons. Coaching is something Davis always thought he might end up doing. However, just not so soon in his career.
“I had watched my father [coach] for so long it was definitely in the back of my mind,” Davis told BJPENN.COM in a recent interview. “I just didn’t think it would happen during the course of my career.”
Dyah Davis’ father, Howard Davis Jr. won a gold medal in the 1976 Olympic games, and his grandfather and uncle were fighters in their own right. Fighting really is a family affair for the Davis’.
“My father was an outstanding boxer,” Davis said. “He boxed in the 1976 Olympics and won a gold medal. My grandfather fought as well, as well as my uncle. So I definitely come from a fighting family, that’s for sure.”
Now well established as an elite boxing coach to some of ATT’s best athletes, there was a time, however brief, when Davis entertained the idea of fighting in the cage. But as the former boxing champion explains, cooler heads prevailed.
“I was at an MMA fight. Back in the day, we used to have AFC shows. They were shows that [ATT founder] Dan Lambert used to put on to keep some of the guys busy. I said, man, why not fight MMA you know? And then seeing guys get elbowed and kicked, I said naw, I pass.”
“Ill pass on that. A guy takes me down I’m a fish out of water,” Davis added.
Perhaps some of Davis’ finest work as ATT’s boxing coach has been with Dustin Poirier. Granted, “The Diamond” has always been a well-rounded fighter and his hands have been one of his strengths. But the improvements that Poirier has made under the guidance of Davis have been nothing short of improbable. The funny thing is, according to Davis, he didn’t need to do too much.
“He was definitely solid, I just think we needed to fine-tune his basics,” Davis explained. “He had all of these things, he already came and knew how to throw a jab properly, a cross properly, a right hook properly.
“I just think we needed to bolt things down, dial it back, work on the basics. Keeping our hands up after throwing our punches, footwork, and head movement and eventually he grew into the fighter he is today.”
The fighter who Poirier is today is the interim UFC lightweight champion. He earned that distinction by defeating the featherweight champion, Max Holloway at UFC 236 for the interim 155-pound strap.
While Holloway had his moments, Poirier got his hand raised via a unanimous decision victory. To a novice, it looked like Poirier’s power was the key difference in that contest. But how could that be? I’ve always heard that technique trumps power. Davis explained that’s not always the case.
“Yeah without a doubt,” Davis said when asked if Poirier’s power had been the difference maker in his championship performance at UFC 236. “What’s crazy is with Dustin, his stamina threshold is crazy. He can go long and still have power late. Most guys tend to fade with their power once they start to get a little fatigued, once the stamina decreases so does the power.
“But Dustin gets stronger as the fight goes on so we knew it was gonna be a good fight for him. Especially with five rounders, we always look forward to it. He’s been scheduled for five rounders but never actually went the distance. We always knew he could sustain that power late.”
The Octagon is returning to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates for UFC 242 on September 7. Rumor has it Dustin Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov will headline the event.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 5/2/2019.