Two-time super-featherweight champion and Baltimore-native Gervonta “Tank” Davis (21-0, 20 KOs) will defend his WBA strap in a championship homecoming bout against mandatory challenger Ricardo “Cientifico” Nunez (21-2, 19 KOs) Saturday live on Showtime from Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore.
Tale of the Tape
Davis is coming into this fight off one of the easiest wins of his career when he stopped Hugo Ruiz in the first round. Davis broke his nose in the first round with a devastating sweeping right hook that connected cleanly and sent Ruiz down to his knees. Ruiz was unable to continue because of the blood pouring from his nose that begun to obstruct his breathing.
The 5’6” southpaw goes by the moniker “Tank” which seems befitting of a fighter, who has stopped each of his last 12 opponents. In fact, he has fought a total of just 4 rounds in his last two outings and has not been extended beyond the eighth round in his last six bouts.
A Floyd Mayweather protégé, the 24-year old Davis is often referred to as the sport’s next biggest star and has been very impressive thus far. His heavy-handed assault and withering pressure style is tough for most opponents to match. Add to that his solid footwork, terrific head movement as well as underrated defense, and you have the instant makings of a breakout star.
Challenger Ricardo Nunez has won his last 10 fights and is coming off an April win over Eduardo Pacheco. Nunez has 19 stoppages out of 21 wins with just 2 defeats so he does carry some power in both hands. However, a closer examination of his resume reveals that the Panamanian has not faced high level opposition.
What’s more is that Nunez is hardly a household name and is only ranked No. 25 in the world by BoxRec. Of course a win over the highly regarded Davis would dramatically change all of that, especially his overall standing within the boxing community. He throws nice combinations and is a capable finisher once he has his man hurt. The problem is that Nunez is sorely lacking in terms of speed and tends to telegraph his punches which can be a recipe for disaster against a lethal counterpuncher like Davis.
Davis has grown accustomed to being dubbed boxing’s next phenom but there’s a parallel narrative here, one that could derail his superstar track if left unchecked. Like most young athletes, the Baltimore native has fallen victim to some of the trappings of his sport.
Just two years ago, he famously failed to make the 130-pound weight limit resulting in a desultory performance against Francisco Fonseca on the Mayweather-Connor McGregor undercard in front of the second largest pay-per-view audience in boxing history.
Following that Aug 26 letdown, he faced first-degree assault charges in connection with an assault upon a childhood friend. Those charges were later dropped. In between fights, Gervonta seemingly spent more time beefing on social media than training prompting many within the boxing community to question his maturity and focus.
Longtime mentor and trainer, Calvin Ford reflected on that period in Davis’s life:
“It’s not the fight,” he said. “It’s the interviews, it’s having to go to this or that place to meet people, the women coming at you, the deals behind closed doors. That’s the stuff we’re not familiar with, that upper level. A young man his age isn’t going to pick it up just like that.”
Fast forward to today, and you’ll find a very different Davis locked away in training camp preparing for his homecoming title bout at Royal Farms Arena. He donated 100 tickets to the staff and beneficiaries at WIN Family Services, a Baltimore-based organization that he supports.
“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.”
Gervonta Davis in his hometown will be a tall order for the very best super-featherweights, including WBC champion Miguel Berchelt, WBO holder Jamel Herring or IBF champ Tevin Farmer. It figures to be a tough night for underdog Nunez who has the unfortunate assignment of playing the spoiler. He has enough power to make the fight interesting at least in the early going but not much else beyond that. This contest has all the makings of a short night for the heavy-handed and speedy Mayweather-promoted fighter.
Verdict: Davis by fourth round TKO
21-year old Richardson Hitchins (9-0, 5 KOs), a 2016 Haitian Olympian fighting out of Brooklyn, returns for his fourth fight of 2019 against once-beaten Philadelphia native Tyrone Crawley (7-1-1, 0 KOs) in an eight-round welterweight match.
Baltimore native and undefeated prospect Malik Hawkins (15-0, 9 KOs) fights in his hometown for the first time in nearly four years in an eight-round super lightweight bout against Johnathan Steele (9-4-1, 6 KOs).
The opening bout features 20-year old New Jersey prospect Dylan Price (8-0, 6 KOs) stepping in for an eight-round super-flyweight bout versus Samuel Gutierrez (16-23-6, 6 KOs).
Tickets for the event are promoted by Mayweather and TGB Promotions and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or at the Royal Farms Box Office through Friday, July 26th from 10 a.m. ET to 5 p.m. ET.