Davis vs Barrios: Tall tales Saturday, Showtime PPV
SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 25, 2021 – Gervonta “Tank” Davis of Baltimore (24-0, 23 KOs) won’t defend his WBA World Lightweight and WBA World Super Featherweight championship titles. Instead, he’ll move up to the super lightweight division to challenge minor title holder Mario Barrios of San Antonio, Texas (26-0, 17 KOs) in a bid to extend his accomplishments.
The bout headlines a Showtime PPV event starting at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT on friendly turf for Davis, the State Farm Arena in Atlanta where he filled the house pre-pandemic in 2019 against Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Davis last fought on Halloween, taking out another taller fighter in former world champion Leo Santa Cruz via a knockout of the year uppercut in six rounds. It’s also 10 pounds ago for Davis, who made weight along with Barrios just under the 140-pound limit. On the same card, Barrios destroyed the likable but under-equipped Ryan Karl.
Clash of competing storylines
Two storylines are competing to tell the tale Saturday. Davis and his team’s version is about a fighter daring to be great who will destroy his opponent with his power despite at least a six-inch height difference and four-inch reach disadvantage. The Barrios narrative is the underdog’s promise his skills and size shouldn’t be overlooked.
“I think he is making a mistake,” said Davis of Barrios. “It’s not just the height. He thinks he’s stronger than me, so we are just going to have to wait and see. If he believes that I’ve never seen anyone like him, then so be it. But they always learn on fight night. That’s when the real me comes out.”
Davis publicly says moving to 140 pounds is a great opportunity. “When I fight bigger guys in the gym, I always show up. I hate when people think that I’m small and try to take advantage of me. This is one of the fights where you will see the best of Gervonta Davis. It’s not only that I hit hard, but it’s where I place my punches, and he will see that Saturday night.
Barrios believes he can make it a much more difficult fight than Tank realizes.
“Both of us throw with bad intentions. We’re in there to hurt and take out our opponent … Tank Davis is going to learn what it’s like to be in there with the type of fighter that I am.
“I expect him to come with his best, and I’m coming with nothing less. It’s going to be bombs away … I’m just so focused on Saturday night and getting into the ring and using everything we worked on in training camp. Virgil has me prepared, and we’ll be ready to make any adjustments we need.
“Like (Mayweather Promotions executive) Leonard Ellerbe said, they have big plans for him. I fully intend on f***ing up those plans come Saturday,” declared Barrios.
Certain details are conveniently left out. In the wake of all the excitement last year about young talent rising as the heir to the legendary “Four Kings,” it seems Davis and rivals Devin Haney, Ryan Garia, and Teofimo Lopez are nowhere close to facing each other. Further, Davis has legal troubles looming, and top-tier opponents don’t want to gamble their time on Davis suddenly becoming unavailable. So, Barrios.
It’s not a knock on the Texan. He grabbed the opportunity to participate in a PPV card. While he took care of his business with Karl, his performance against Batyr Akhmedov of Uzbekistan on the Spence/Porter undercard looms larger. It was a narrow decision for Barrios, but boxing media and fans believe Akhmedov deserved the win.
Prediction: Check that chin
Leo Santa Cruz looked strong in his fight against Davis with an opportunity to win – until he didn’t any more thanks to the impressive Tank uppercut. Barrios and Hunter are aware he’s a prime target for the same kind of punch. Barrios will either have to rush and pressure Davis or use his distance advantage to make it a technical bout to outbox Davis. But it will be hard for Barrios to prevail against Davis on the cards. Oddsmakers agree, giving Barrios better odds of a KO win than a decision.
Davis will be criticized for the outcome unless he blasts through Barrios. A decision will dull his reputation. A loss isn’t a disaster as he won’t lose his titles, and he can claim he dared to be great. But the fans want to see truly challenging matchups. This doesn’t seem like one. We call this for Davis with a late-round attrition stoppage. It gets a win, but it doesn’t advance his career.
Lubin and Rosario poised to put on a show
On the PPV, 154-pound contenders Erickson “Hammer” Lubin of Florida (23-1, 16 KOs) and former unified champion Jeison Rosario of the Dominican Republic (26-2-1, 14 KOs) will try to put themselves back into title contention with a win for the WBC Super Welterweight title eliminator in the co-main event.
The division has passed titles around like a side dish at a family dinner. Lubin has been climbing back since a devastating first-round knockout loss to Jermell Charlo in his title opportunity in 2017. Rosario came nearly out of nowhere to shock Julian “JRock” Williams in early 2020 to win three of the four major super welterweight titles. He relinquished them to Charlo 10 months later. Williams had originally won the titles from Jarrett Hurd, who hoped to get back into contention himself. Instead, he was taken apart by Luis Arias on June 5.
“I chose this fight because I don’t want any tune-up fights,” declared Lubin. “I don’t like guys with lopsided records, and I don’t want the easy fights. I want the top guys in the division, so when I get my title shot or become the champion, they can say I beat everyone. I didn’t come this far just to come this far.”
Rosario countered with his own declaration. “I’m absolutely ready to do whatever it takes to win. I possess the power in my hands to end the fight, both in the first round and the 12th round. I’m ready both physically and mentally to endure the 12 rounds if needed to come out victorious in the end.”
Both agreed the fight would be action-packed. “He will come out like he always does, aggressively. If he does try to box me, that will be a mistake. He can’t outbox me; my skills are second to none. When he does come out aggressive, I’m going to tame him,” said Lubin.
“People can expect a war. I’m a warrior, and I love to be fighting that war inside the ring. I want people to be happy and to enjoy this fight. It’s going to be a great show.”
This is likely to be the fight of the night. We predict it won’t last 12 rounds, and we give Rosario a slight edge in a 50-50 fight.
Also: Super welterweight contender Carlos Adames of the DR (19-1, 15 KOs) will take on Alexis Salazar of Guadalajara (23-3, 9 KOs) in a 10-round fight.
Akhmedov fights in the PPV opening bout against former world champion Argenis Mendez in a WBA super lightweight title eliminator.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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