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Weighty issues: Davis vs Santa Cruz brings fans to Texas, Showtime PPV

Written By | Oct 31, 2020
Gervonta Davis (left) and Leo Santa Cruz put two titles on the line Saturday in San Antonio. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing Davis vs Santa Cruz

Gervonta Davis (left) and Leo Santa Cruz put two titles on the line Saturday in San Antonio. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing

SAN DIEGO, Calif., October 31, 2020 – The first most important question about the WBA World Lightweight and WBA World Super Featherweight title fight between Gervonta “Tank” Davis of Baltimore (23-0, 22 KOs) and Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) was answered at Friday’s weigh-in. Everyone can stop speculating about whether Davis will make the 130 weight limit. Although he had to step to the scale without any shorts on, Davis checked in at 129.8 pounds. Santa Cruz weighed 129.5 pounds.

Gervonta Davis stepped on the scale behind a blanket to make weight. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing

The fight brings a limited number of fans to the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, with as many as 13,000 fans expected for the event. For everyone else, Davis vs Santa Cruz airs on Showtime Boxing PPV with the main card starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

Now comes the decision: Is this a card worth your $75 on Halloween?

It’s not a real surprise what will happen on Saturday night. Showtime Networks president of sports and event programming Stephen Espinoza admits it. “Leo is going to come into the ring, throw a lot of punches, and show an activity rate that’s unlike just about anybody else in the sport. “Tank is going to show the power, speed, and the athleticism that has made him one of the fastest rising young stars that we’ve seen in some time. Beyond that, it will be up to them, just like it’s been up to them for their entire lives.”




Gervonta Davis wants to establish himself as a PPV star with a victory over Leo Santa Cruz. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing

“We know Leo is going to come with a lot of punches, and I’m going to be explosive. It’s all about giving fans a treat. I’m grateful to be in this position, and I’m ready. Saturday night is going to be a memorable night.

“I don’t think I have to knock him out, I just have to go out there and be great,” said Davis. “Forget everything else, I just have to go out there and show everyone that I’m the top guy in the boxing world. That’s my main goal.”

Santa Cruz has heard it all. He’s too old (at age 32); he’s too small. He’s in danger of being flattened. He’s undeterred. “Gervonta is a big guy, and I know he’s going to come hit hard. But I’ve trained with bigger guys all camp and I’ve been able to take everything thrown at me.

“The fans want you to go and make it a back and forth war. I know against Gervonta, I have to fight smart. I’m going to just try as hard as I can to listen to my father’s advice,” said Santa Cruz.

Father figures loom large for Davis and Santa Cruz

Jose Santa Cruz has guided his son's career even as he has battled cancer and COVID-19. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing

Jose Santa Cruz has guided his son’s career even as he has battled cancer and COVID-19. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing

Both trainers play a big part in the narrative of the fight. Santa Cruz is trained by his father, Jose. The elder Santa Cruz has battled spinal cancer and nearly died from COVID-19. Leo Santa Cruz says it’s a miracle his father survived. He will be in the corner directing the action, with Leo’s brother and co-trainer Antonio carrying the rest of the load.

“I’m very thankful to be here. I’m so happy to be here with my son for such a big fight and be able to guide him and help him accomplish his dream,” said Jose Santa Cruz.

“We know that Davis is a very strong and accomplished fighter. But Leo has just used it to motivate him in the gym every day and you’ll be able to see that on Saturday.”

Trainer Calvin Ford has served as both trainer and surrogate father to Gervonta Davis. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime boxing

Trainer Calvin Ford has served as both trainer and surrogate father to Gervonta Davis. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime boxing

Davis is trained by Calvin Ford, a fixture in Baltimore boxing who is as much a father figure and mentor to Davis as he is a trainer. Ford moved the training camp for Saturday’s fight to Las Vegas so he could get away from distractions at home.

“‘Tank’ accomplished a lot of things that I’ve asked him to do, but this is the pinnacle of them all right here. Both of these families have walked the same line with different trails. They both have a chance to become greats with this win.

“Every time I look at ‘Tank’ now, I flashback to those younger years in the gym with him as a child,” said Ford. “Now he’s the man I’ve always looked at him to be. He’s a family man, businessman and a wonderful fighter. It’s amazing to see one of my boys all grown up.”



Prediction: Take the long shot with Santa Cruz

Our prediction: Leo Santa Cruz will fight smart and win. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing

On paper, Gervonta Davis is the favorite. He is the harder puncher and can end the fight at any time. But there is still the question of his struggle to make the weight limit, and his performance against 38-year-old Yuriorkis Gamboa in his fight last December. Although he stopped Gamboa and the scorecards weren’t razor-close, the Cuban was fighting on one leg and hurt Davis several times.

Santa Cruz can’t rely solely on volume punching. But he can make use of speed, distance, and ring generalship. It’s in his best interest to avoid an inside fight. He can’t stay in one spot too long. Santa Cruz has more tools, and in recent fights against big punchers, it’s been Fury over Wilder, Pacquiao over Thurman, and with a Texas crowd and his father behind him, it will be Santa Cruz over Davis by decision.

Undercard features the return of the Rougarou, Regis Prograis

Regis Prograis returns to action after a year out of the ring. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing

Regis Prograis returns to action after a year out of the ring. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing

it’s jarring to see former super lightweight champion Regis Prograis on the undercard in a 10-round bout. He isn’t even in the co-main event. Out of the ring for a year due to the failure to make a fight with Maurice Hooker over a catchweight argument, then stalled by the pandemic, Prograis comes off his narrow loss to Josh Taylor in the World Boxing Super Series to face Juan Heraldez of Las Vegas (16-0-1, 10 KOs). Heraldez has no one on his resume to indicate he has the skills to tangle with the Rougarou, but who can blame him for taking the chance?

Prograis stepped on the scale Friday at 141.6 pounds, over the 140 pound limit. He did not attempt to make weight and instead compensated Heraldez to continue with the fight. It’s not a good look and Prograis needs to shake off whatever malaise he might be suffering to get back on track and off the undercard next time.

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.

Copyright © 2020 by Falcon Valley Group

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.