Gervonta "Tank" Davis has made a name for himself thanks to his prodigious power.
The undefeated 26-year-old has stopped all but one of his 24 opponents, and many of those knockouts have been spectacular. In his next bout, he's out to prove his power will carry to a higher weight class. On Saturday night, Davis will look to win a title in a third division as he takes on WBA (regular) super lightweight champion Mario Barrios at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Davis is jumping up two weight classes to take on Barrios (26-0, 17 KOs). His most recent bout was in October against Leo Santa Cruz, fighting for the WBA super featherweight title. Santa Cruz had some success, but Davis abruptly ended the fight in the sixth round with a devastating uppercut. Here's a look, per Showtime Boxing:
Barrios, 26, isn't as well-known as Davis, but he's no pushover. Ring Magazine ranks him as the No. 7 fighter in the super lightweight division. He's taller and has a longer reach than Davis and will be in his comfort zone fighting at 140 pounds. If he's sharp Saturday night, he could prove to be Davis' toughest test as a professional.
Davis vs. Barrios Fight Info
When: Saturday, June 26 at 8 p.m. ET (main event approx. 12 a.m. ET)
Where: State Farm Arena in Atlanta
Live Stream: Showtime PPV ($74.99)
Odds (via DraftKings): Davis -560, Barrios +350
Davis' decision to jump up to super lightweight has surprised some considering there are a number of great fighters one division below at lightweight, where Davis holds the WBA secondary world title. Teofimo Lopez, the IBF, WBO and WBA (super) world champion at 135 pounds, has even called out Davis for "avoiding" him, per DAZN.com's Alexander Netherton.
With a tough task ahead of him, Tank has mostly ignored the chatter. He says Saturday night is about proving he can steamroll opponents at 140 pounds just as easily as he does it at 130.
"My last fight people complained that Leo Santa Cruz was too small, so I'm basically going out there and showing that a size difference doesn't matter," Davis said, per Bad Left Hook's Scott Christ. "I'm going to beat whoever they put in front of me. I'm trying to chase greatness."
The knockout blows have made Davis a popular fighter, but he's more than just an explosive puncher. He has excellent hand speed and great footwork. The technique on his power shots is fantastic, as evidenced by his destruction of Santa Cruz. Despite having some trouble with Santa Cruz's work rate and tenacity, Davis was ahead on all three judges' scorecards at the time of the knockout, per BoxRec.
Discipline will be key for Barrios if he wants to upset Davis. He will have a distinct reach advantage against the tightly coiled southpaw (71" to 67.5", per BoxRec), which means an effective jab will not only help him set up his own combinations but control distance as well. Barrios is also working with elite trainer Virgil Hunter, who has schooled him in some advanced techniques that could be useful against Davis, per Premier Boxing Champions' Caryn A. Tate:
"In some of his recent fights, Barrios can be seen extending his lead hand after firing a combination. Hunter explained the 'why' of this elite tactic.
"'It's a defensive mechanism. It lets you know the distance the opponent is at. It also gives the opponent a deterrent not to attack, to make him get the sense that he has to go through something. So it's designed to hold up the attack just for a split second to allow Mario to readjust his position.'"
A good offense can be just as important as a solid defense in boxing, and Barrios has shown improvements in this area as well. He's racked up nine stoppages in his past 10 fights, including a sixth-round knockout of his most recent opponent, Ryan Karl. Davis' chin has held up just fine in the lower divisions, but Barrios could be the one to crack it.
Davis does get his own expert tutelage from Floyd Mayweather Jr., a distinct benefit of fighting for Mayweather Promotions. He says the legendary boxer has been working with him in this training camp on making full use of his talents and "letting the knockout come," per Christ.
Patience will likely come in handy against Barrios. Davis is in uncharted territory here, and he doesn't always get one-and-done KOs. Against the aging Yuriorkis Gamboa in 2019, Davis didn't get the TKO until the final round despite scoring knockdowns in the second and eighth rounds.
Look for Barrios to win a few rounds in a close, action-packed fight, but Davis should have what it takes to seize an opportunity for a late stoppage.
Prediction: Davis by late knockout.
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