UK boxing fans get the opportunity to watch live the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather’s PPV boxing throne this weekend, when super-featherweight phenom Gervonta Davis headlines at the Copper Box in London against British challenger Liam Walsh.
The newly-minted IBF champ, the youngest word champion in boxing, brings with him a tidal wave of expectation from across the Atlantic, yet it’s all thoroughly well placed on the immensely talented young Baltimore southpaw’s broad shoulders. Still only 22, Davis is seen by many as the future of American boxing.
After over 200 wins as an amateur, Davis turned pro in 2013 aged just 19 and has amassed an almost perfect 16 KO’s in 17 straight wins en route to picking up the world title on the James Degale – Badou Jack undercard in New York in January. He has the speed and the power to open up almost anybody in the division.
I say almost anybody, and that’s only because the super-featherweight ranks right now is also home to the pound for pound number one boxer on the planet today in Vasyl Lomachenko. Yet with the Ukrainian likely to move up tot eh bustling lightweight division soon, the path could be wide open for young Davis’ reign of terror to really begin.
An all too familiar inner ghetto success story, Davis’ parents were drug addicts and he and his brothers would often go hungry growing up. But the boxing ring offered him salvation from the demons on the streets and he won the biggest fight of his life early on, by focusing on sport and chasing dreams of a better life.
Now he’s flying around the planet on private jets with mentor and manager Mayweather. Investing his earnings in property and assets, Davis is learning from the grand master both inside and outside the ring.
Walsh has had to remain patient for his big title chance. A former Commonwealth and British champion himself, he missed out on a world title fight against Ricky Burns in 2013 due to a car crash – and has been playing catchup on his career ever since. Opportunity finally knocks on Saturday night, but he’ll need much more than home comforts against a flashy switch-hitting wrecking machine like Davis.
The American’s own first world title chance in February was supposed to be a huge test. In fact, some in the industry thought it was too much too soon. Puerto Rican Jose Pedraza, 22-0 himself heading in, had reigned for two years, cruising through a handful of title defences most recently against Liverpool’s Stephen Smith. But Davis took him to school.
Teeing off on Pedraza from the opening round, Davis slipped and slid around the ring while unloading head-snapping uppercuts and hooks from all angles. Even when Pedraza had his moments in the middle rounds, Davis kept this composure to find the finish late in the seventh round.
Having never been past nine rounds, Walsh has to try and take Davis into deep waters on Saturday to have any hopes of causing an upset. But with Pedraza choosing to fight most of their world title matchup from southpaw stance too, Davis couldn’t have had any better preparation to face Walsh this weekend.
The Mayweather fighter has predicted a sixth-round finish, and it would take a brave man not directly related to Walsh to bet any other way. Get ready to see something a little bit special.
- Fight Disciples Episode 101 – here the lads wax lyrical about Davis’ UK debut on this week’s boxing show, available from 17/05/17.