Gervonta Davis vs. Leo Santa Cruz: Fight prediction, card, odds, preview, how to watch, start time, PPV price

The biggest piece of intrigue surrounding Saturday’s pay-per-view bout in San Antonio between unbeaten Gervonta “Tank” Davis and four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz — and the result that could have the most bearing upon on how experts handicap the 130-pound bout — remains whether Davis will comfortably make weight. 

Davis (23-0, 22 KOs), the power-punching southpaw who will put his secondary WBA title at 135 pounds at stake against Santa Cruz’s WBA junior lightweight belt, has endured consistent troubles in recent years on the scale regardless of which division he has competed in. In fact, Davis once lost his 130-pound title on the scales in 2017 ahead of his biggest fight to date as the co-main event on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor card. 

The 25-year-old Davis will be moving back down to junior lightweight when he steps foot inside the ring at the Alamodome (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) where a limited crowd of 11,500 is expected to show up while maintaining social distancing policies. Yet each time he has faced the media in recent weeks, Davis has made sure to make one thing clear. 

“Gervonta Davis will definitely make the weight,” Davis said. “This camp has been great for me. I’m already at weight. I’m not big and just have been working hard. Our camp is not worrying about weight, our camp is about Leo Santa Cruz and giving him a great fight. That’s what we worry about and getting them big checks.”

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Although Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) has had just one fight at junior lightweight — outpointing Miguel Flores last November to win the vacant title after previously doing his best work at featherweight — he was willing to take the risk of moving up one division higher against one of the sport’s biggest punchers because of a potential weakness he believes he can expose. 

“Tank Davis is strong the first five rounds. I know he’s also dangerous in every round, but I think the more dangerous rounds will be 1-6 where he will have the most power,” Santa Cruz said. “But if I see him gassing out, I am going to pressure him and make him tired.” 

When Santa Cruz, 32, first presented the idea of fighting Davis to his co-trainers, brother Antonio and father Jose, the family talked about his need to fight smart. Santa Cruz believes he will need “to fight a perfect fight” but hasn’t ruled out the potential of standing toe-to-toe against Davis and utilizing his pressure style. 

“We have to fight from the outside because we know Tank could hit and if he catches me, he could hurt me,” Santa Cruz said. “We are going to try to box 12 rounds, but you know me. We want to give the fans an exciting fight so if I feel I can take his punches, we are going to stand there and make it a fight. But if I see he can hurt me, I am going to be smart and try and make it the full 12 rounds.”  

Santa Cruz brought in bigger sparring partners, both junior welterweights and welterweights, to prepare for Davis’ punishing style. He also worked his neck muscles extra in hopes he can withstand the power. 

Although Santa Cruz has hovered around the top 10 of the pound-for-pound rankings for years, particularly from his pair of two-fight series against Carl Frampton and Abner Mares, he believes a victory over Davis would land him a permanent spot, mostly because opponents have been going out of their way not to fight him. 

The problem for Davis, and maybe part of the reason he has yet to garner much P4P recognition, is that he has largely blown away his competition before being able to showcase how smart of a fighter he is and how well he can adjust and box. Only one opponent — veteran German Meraz in 2014 — has proved able to go the distance against Davis and that fight was just a six-round bout. 

“Most of them don’t last until the second part of the fight. They all go down 1-6 or probably seven,” Davis said. “As we know, [Jose] Pedraza came out with the pressure and got stopped in the 7th round. They can say whatever they want but they have to prove it once we get in there.”

So how much does Davis have in him that has yet to be shown inside the ring? The answer, according to the fighter, is “a lot.” And there’s some belief that Santa Cruz may be perfectly skilled and tough enough to force him to show it.  

“I think that Leo is going to bring the best out of me,” Davis said. “We just have to wait and see. I have been working hard each and every day sparring bigger and smaller guys just to prepare myself all around the board for Leo. We know he is coming to fight. I don’t know how much [of my power] he will be able to take until we get in there.”

This four-fight PPV event has something for everyone. WBA junior welterweight champion Mario Barrios is back in the co-main event when he puts his title on the line against Ryan Karl. Before that, former unified junior welterweight champion Regis Prograis is back in his first action since dropping the belts when he faces Juan Heraldez. Prograis has been out for a fully year since losing a majority decision to Josh Taylor in the World Boxing Super Series final at 140 pounds last October. Plus, veteran Diego Magdaleno is back when he opens the PPV against Isaac Cruz in a lightweight contest.

Fight card, odds

Gervonta Davis (c) -700

Leo Santa Cruz +500

WBA ‘regular’ lightweight title

Mario Barrios (c) -2000

Ryan Karl +1000

Junior welterweight title

Regis Prograis N/A

Juan Heraldez N/A

Junior welterweights

Isaac Cruz Diego Magdaleno Lightweights

Viewing information

  • Date: Oct. 31 | Start time: 9 p.m. ET
  • Location: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: Showtime PPV ($74.99) | Live stream:


Expect the first five rounds to dictate completely whether Santa Cruz has a chance to win this fight. If he can use his height and reach advantage to box from the outside and prove he’s durable enough to endure an expected early barrage, his chances of victory increase exponentially as things move closer to the championship rounds. 

Davis has historically slowed down in the second half of fights but has typically been able to save himself — as he did in stopping former champion Yuriorkis Gamboa in the final round last December — by relying how his power shots. Should the fight remain competitive entering the final third of the bout on the scorecards, Davis’ work rate, or potential lack there of, could go a long way in deciding the winner considering Santa Cruz is a workhorse who relies on quantity to overcome his lack of power. 

The big if, however, surrounds whether Santa Cruz has enough pop and can land both clean and effectively enough to stop Davis from simply walking him down. Santa Cruz can fight defensively responsible enough to win by boxing from the outside without sacrificing his high output, which he proved by redeeming a loss to Frampton in their sensational 2017 rematch. 

That fight was against an elite featherweight in Frampton. Davis is a legitimate lightweight and has the kind of power that suggests he will rise much higher in weight and still be effective as his career rolls on. He has also been described to casual fans as “the Mike Tyson of the smaller weight divisions.”

For Santa Cruz to pull this off, he will need to show a level of toughness and durability against the kind of power he has yet to face in the professional ranks. Ultimately, how Davis ends up looking on the scale should play a big role in defining the outcome of the fight.

If Davis can listen to the advice of mentor and promoter Floyd Mayweather and come in at the best shape of his career and if his ability to box is as good as his ability to finish, this could end up being a short night at the office. If Tank is what’s advertised, this could be a spectacular debut on the PPV level. 

Pick: Davis via TKO5

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