BALTIMORE, MD – JULY 27: Gervonta Davis punches Ricardo Nunez during the second round of their WBA … [+]
For Gervonta “Tank” Davis, it’s been an active year. He’s fought twice already and neither opponent lasted past the second round. For his final fight of 2019, Davis is facing his most decorated opponent yet. But it wouldn’t be a shock to see Davis blast through Yuriorkis Gamboa either when they meet Saturday night on Showtime.
Davis is one of the brightest young stars in boxing, a mixture of knockout power and in-ring charisma, and now he’s moving to the same 135-pound lightweight division as Vasiliy Lomachenko, Teofimo Lopez and Devin Haney. It will be interesting to see exactly where Davis fits in, but Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza knows one thing: Davis can sell tickets.
Assuming Davis gets close to a sellout at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Saturday, he’ll have compelled more than 30,000 people to watch him live this year.
“He is numerically one of the top three draws in all of boxing for 2019,” Espinoza said. “… With well over 30,000 seats sold among three fights in 2019, that puts Gervonta at the top of the list, along with Errol Spence and Anthony Joshua in terms of the boxers who have sold the most tickets across events in 2019.
“So when we described Gervonta as one of the young stars in boxing, this is not just hyperbole. It’s not salesmanship. It is actually a fact, and it is very important, what he’s doing here. There’s no young fighter doing what Gervonta is doing right now. There’s no other fighter in boxing doing what he’s doing.”
Now, the veteran Gamboa will try knock him down a few levels. Here are three reasons to watch Davis vs. Gamboa.
1) Gamboa feels he’s being overlooked: He’s a massive underdog to Davis, but Gamboa has had plenty of past success. Though he’s 38 years old now, he’s a former Olympian from Cuba, and he unified two of the titles in the 126-pound featherweight division in 2010. Though Gamboa is past his prime, he thinks he has some advantages. “Obviously the nod has to go for me for experience, just because of the mere fact of my record and who I’ve faced,” Gamboa said. “I definitely think I’ve faced the better opponents and the better quality of opponents than Gervonta has … There’s a lot left for me to give in this sport. So, there are a lot of things that are being overlooked and that I believe give me a definite advantage over Gervonta.”
2) Davis is moving to lightweight: Though he had plenty of success at 130 pounds, winning two titles, he’s also struggled with his weight. He lost one of those belts on the scale in 2017, and it’s clear that he often doesn’t stay in fighting shape when he’s in between fights. But now that he has to weigh in at 135 pounds and not 130, he said the move has benefitted him (considering that Gamboa isn’t exactly a large lightweight probably will help Davis on Saturday). “I definitely got in shape way quicker than I normally do,” Davis said. “I start running on the highest speed level. It was just way quicker than it normally is. … I want to say I probably have like close to, like, 80 to 90 [sparring] rounds [during training camp]. So, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I’ve been working, so I don’t have to worry about the weight.”
3) Davis has studied the Terence Crawford fight: In Gamboa’s most high profile match in 2014, he started well vs. Terence Crawford and gave the man who’s now one of the best in the world a few problems. Eventually, Crawford knocked Gamboa down four times en route to a TKO in the ninth round—and Davis looked to that bout for inspiration. “Gamboa was touching him up in the beginning of rounds, because Crawford was too wide [with his punches]. So, I took that and tried to not be wide, like throwing a lot of round punches,” Davis said, referring to the idea that he needs to throw straight punches instead of round (or wide) ones. “But the explosiveness was there and he was actually right-handed when Gamboa was touching him up. Once [Crawford] turned southpaw, then that was a different story. I was learning from his mistakes, just not be wide.”
Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis Vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa odds
Davis is a heavy favorite, but more of the money at the end of the week has come in on Gamboa. Earlier this week, Davis was as much as a -3000 betting favorite with Gamboa as a +1250 underdog. But as of this writing, Davis had dropped to -2000 (a bet of $2,000 wins $100) with Gamboa moving to +1025 (win $1,025 off a $100 wager).
If you have a feeling Gamboa could pull off the upset—and it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility—you’re still getting a good value.
Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis Vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa records
Davis has a perfect record of 22-0 with 21 KOs, and since the beginning of 2018, he’s fought exactly six rounds because he keeps knocking out his opponents so early. Aside from Jose Pedraza, who was stopped by Davis in the seventh round in 2017, Gamboa likely represents Davis’ most dangerous opponent.
Gamboa is 30-2 with 18 KOs, and though his loss to Crawford was (obviously) forgivable, his defeat to Robinson Castellanos in 2017 was much harder to take, especially since Castellanos was 23-12 heading into that bout. Though Gamboa has won four-straight since then, here’s something to be worried about: Gamboa has been knocked down in four of his last nine fights and eight times overall in those nine bouts.
Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis Vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa prediction
It would have been an interesting move to lay money on Gamboa when he was at +1250, because I think he does have a chance to pull off the upset, especially if he can avoid Davis’ heavy shots early in the bout and make it more of a boxing match. But in reality, I don’t think Gamboa will survive the early rounds. Davis is too good, too strong and too young. His power will send Gamboa to the canvas, and by the fifth round, he’ll have had enough. Call it Davis by KO.
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