Usually at this point in the year, the US boxing schedule, at least for major TV shows, is done and dusted. The holidays are upon us, no one wants to train over Christmas, and we’ve wrapped up the year.
But we’ve got one more big show to go, as this Saturday on Showtime, former 130-pound titleholder Gervonta “Tank” Davis moves up to lightweight to face Yuriorkis Gamboa in a main event from Atlanta.
Davis (22-0, 21 KO) is now 25 years old, no longer truly a pup in the fight game. A two-time 130-pound titleholder (he lost one belt on the scales), the Baltimore native has had questions over the last few years.
Is he really all they say he is? Is his competition preparing him for real top-level fights? Does he have the dedication outside the ring to be truly great?
Davis has heard the questions. He hopes to supply the answers in the ring.
“I know exactly what I have to do in there on Saturday night. I’m a more mature and focused fighter,” he said at his media workout this week. “I have a great team around me. [Trainer] Calvin [Ford] is like a father to me and he’s watched me develop as a fighter and he believes this fight will bring the best out of me.”
Gamboa (30-2, 18 KO) was once a top rising star in boxing, too. Years of poor business moves robbed him of his true prime, and on Monday, he turned 38. He’s not really a lightweight. It’s been a long time since he scored what you’d call a truly quality win.
But while fight fans and pundits are free to take Gamboa’s chances lightly, Davis knows he can’t. He’s the one who has to actually get in there and trade blows with the Cuban.
“My skill set suits a fighter like Gamboa,” he said. “Gamboa’s a great fighter. The experience in the ring, I have it, too. So it’s going to make for an exciting matchup and one the fans won’t want to miss. I’m must-see TV.”
Gamboa last fought on July 27 in Baltimore, on a Showtime-televised card headlined by Davis trucking mandatory title challenger Ricardo Nunez in two rounds. Gamboa did much the same that evening, beating fellow creakier veteran Roman “Rocky” Martinez inside of two rounds, but said he didn’t stick around to watch Davis’ fight.
“I think it’s a mistake that he didn’t watch my last fight in July,” Davis says. “Saturday night we’ll see just how much he’s been studying me.”
Trainer Ford is also giving Gamboa due respect, as it’s a lot better to live up to low expectations and bowl someone over than dismiss an opponent perceived to be out of his depth, and wind up stunned in the ring.
“We are prepared for anything that Gamboa brings us,” Ford said. “If he wants to brawl, we’ll brawl. If he stays in there close, we’ll stay close. Whatever he dictates, we will adjust to. That is the game plan.”
The fight being in Atlanta, which isn’t a city that gets a lot of big-league boxing, is also motivation for “Tank.”
“This is like my second home and it feels amazing to be here and fighting for my third time this year. I’m just excited to put on a great performance on Saturday night,” Davis said. “I’m overwhelmed by all the support and the fans who came out tonight. But I still have to get the job done. All I’m worried about is getting the ‘W.’ Each fight, I’m breaking records, which are meant to be broken, and Saturday night at State Farm Arena the fans will be the real winners.”