Tonight, from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA (eh, formerly called the StubHub Center, folks), unbeaten WBA “super” world super featherweight champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis (20-0, 19KOs) will defend his title against tough former world champion and late replacement Hugo Ruiz (39-4, 33KOs).
All action former world champion Abner Mares, initially slated for war with Davis, suffered a reported (and potentially career threatening) detached retina to derail that encounter. But Ruiz, in elite condition and “cocky” according to Davis, is feeling primed and ready to pull off an upset.
Our west coast fight aficionado Abraham Gonzalez will be on the scene to break down the main event and championship triple feature, which airs LIVE on SHOWTIME (10 P.M. ET/ 7 P.M. PT).
After taking a little time to get over the dissolution of Davis V Mares as a fan, the reality is, this is a better fight, and a very dangerous one for the talented but troubled Tank. Largely inactive in 2018 aside from rolling all over Jesus Cuellar in 3 rounds, the TMT product failed to flash the potential superstar in him on the undercard of Mayweather V McGregor in August 2017 against Francisco Fonseca before stopping him in the 8th round. This, after appearing to have the makings of an all-time great opposite former world champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza, whom he destroyed in seven rounds in January 2017. Is Davis destined for the Hall of Fame or a correctional facility? We don't know. But we'll know a lot more following what projects to be the toughest assignment of his career.
In late 2016, I called Gervonta Davis for a phone interview arranged by his publicist with a sneaking suspicion that Floyd Mayweather was somehow listening on the line. It's been a strange odyssey between Floyd and I over the years, but in the ensuing 15 minutes or so, it felt like I was talking to “Money” with a lot of loose change in his pocket. Ya know, coin of the Abraham Lincoln variety. Not that his talk was cheap– it was just that, he didn't give me anything of real value, so I had to watch and listen to him during any unplugged moments I could find. In the days leading up to his January 2017 “Pretty Boy” Floyd-esque masterpiece over Jose “Sniper” Pedraza at Barclays Center, I saw him in a way I could not over the phone.
In so many ways, “Tank”, age 24, will always be a survivor of want from the urban war zone of Baltimore, with a practiced need to prove something to himself. Now, it would appear that brand new baby girl Gervanni will add another dimension to that perspective. Proof of this, was his decision to eschew heading back to the South Florida boot camp of solid trainer Kevin Cunningham, preferring instead to boil away the portly party boy body under longtime trainer and mentor Calvin Ford. I last saw Davis during the September 9 post fight press conference for Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia; made quite entertaining by a funny as hell Adrien Broner, co-star Robert Easter Jr., and a very rare form of Errol Spence Jr.
Instead of a Tank, Davis looked like an undisciplined 170lb Twinkie in search of a recliner. It was disturbing, considering Mayweather– the man who molded him into a fighter on the fringe of special, never appeared even remotely out of shape during his legendary career. So what can we expect from Davis, after once again barely making weight to defend his title?
A good scare is often more helpful than good advice, and I think Tank will receive both on Saturday night. Hugo Ruiz is highly motivated, long, stealthy and completely unafraid of Davis. And remember that word “Cocky” Davis used to characterize Ruiz? That's because the Mexican has speed, an absolutely lethal right hand (a southpaw elixir of the chopping variety), and knows he presents infinitely more problems than an Abner Mares who'd seen better days prior to his unfortunate injury.
I'm actually very surprised Floyd matched him so tough– but then again, in Floyd's mind, he asked for it.
However, based on what I think I know about Tank, expect the proud new baby daddy to survive an early adventure, before solving and reducing Ruiz to fractions. In a star-making performance of the second kind, look for Gervonta Davis to score a come-from-behind 8th round TKO over a super tough Hugo Ruiz.