For the first time in 79 years, a native of Baltimore will defend his world title inside his home city when unbeaten junior lightweight champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis returns to the Charm City.
Davis (21-0, 20 KOs) will put his WBA 130-pound title at stake inside Royal Farms Arena when he faces hard-hitting mandatory challenger Ricardo Nunez (21-2, 19 KOs). The Showtime main event (9 p.m. ET) will see Davis become the first returning Baltimore champion since featherweight titleholder Harry Jeffra defeated John “Spider” Armstrong in 1940.
Currently the youngest reigning American champion, the 24-year-old Davis has showcased his maturity in the lead-up to this fight by working hard to present himself as a true ambassador to his home area. Not only did he receive the key to the city from Baltimore mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young this week, Davis has spoken about how much he hopes his return brings hope to troubled youths looking for a way out of violent and negative circumstances.
“I believe it’s time for me to fight in front of my hometown and thank them for supporting me,” Davis said. “I never thought a fight in Baltimore would be this big. It gives me chills, but I’m ready for it. It’s a big test. I’ve been gone for so long and coming home feels amazing.
“I am looking forward to giving back to the city on a positive level. Just bringing my city together on a big event. I want everybody to be a part of the fight. The discipline in boxing can help kids get off the street. Just having a boxing facility to keep kids off the street would help a lot.”
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Davis, who credits boxing with saving his life after a difficult youth that saw him bounce around the foster care system, has found new motivation entering this fight after his girlfriend Dretta recently gave birth to their daughter Gervanni.
“My daughter has changed me. She has made me grow up quicker because I don’t just have a kid, I have a baby girl,” Davis said. “She has made me more patient. I am actually soft when I get around her. I don’t think she changed me as a fighter, but she has changed me as a person. She has helped me mature.”
Davis has had his own troubles in recent years from arrests to not making weight and losing a world title on the scale in 2017. But he credits fatherhood with helping him focus on what really matters in both life and his career.
“I think God gave me a girl for a reason, so I could calm down, stay focused, stay out of trouble and when I’m not fighting to have most of my energy on her,” Davis said. “I don’t want her to have the life that I had and things like that. I’ll show her right from wrong. I’m excited.
“I know what’s in front of me. I am living in the moment right now. I know what I have to focus on now. I know it’s a big task in front of me, now and in the future. But my focus is on right now. I feel like the love is here right now and I don’t want to look past that. I want to soak it all in.”
Finding big-name opponents willing to face him hasn’t been easy for Davis at 130 pounds. What was expected to be a defining bout in March against Abner Mares wasn’t meant to be when Mares pulled out with an eye injury and Davis blew out late replacement Hugo Ruiz in one round.
Nunez certainly brings with him a puncher’s chance despite entering this fight as a clear underdog. The native of Panama has won 10 straight fights and 15 of his last 16 wins overall have come via knockout.
“I’m very motivated. This is personal for me,” Nunez said. “I do want [to] beat Gervonta Davis. I have a great showing in Baltimore, although it’s his hometown. I want to bring the championship back to Panama, not only for myself but for my family. We’ve prepared very well physically and also technically for this fight. So you’re going to watch a great fight coming from me.
“I definitely don’t think this is going to go the full rounds because the high percentage we have of knockouts. So somebody is definitely going down.”
In the co-main event are a pair of former champions when Yuriokis Gamboa squares off against Roman Martinez in a lightweight bout. Gamoba, the former unified WBA and IBF featherweight champion, will look to make it four in a row against Martinez after scoring three straight decision victories in the last two years. Martinez, the former WBO junior lightweight champion, scored a TKO win over William Gonzalez after a three-year layoff following a loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Fight card, odds
Gervonta Davis (c) -6000
Ricardo Nunez +1600
Junior lightweight title
Yuriorkis Gamboa -345
Roman Martinez +250
|Ladarius Miller N/A||Jezzrel Corrales N/A||Lightweights|
Even if he hasn’t been forced to show it much of late due to early knockouts, Davis is one of the most well-rounded and dangerous fighters in the game today as a boxer-puncher. He has fight-changing power in both hands yet relies just as much upon quickness and angles to set up his shots.
Nunez hasn’t lost in four years and brings an impressive run of finishes into his first world title bout. Outside of catching Davis cold with a big punch, however, it’s difficult to find many paths to victory for him because of how good Davis is as a boxer.
Look for Davis to showcase the maturity he has spoken about ahead of this fight and systematically break Nunez down before stopping him.
Pick: Davis via TKO5