Gervonta Davis to Face Former Champ Gamboa for Vacant WBA LW Title
Rising boxing star Gervonta Davis will fight former champion Yuriokis Gamboa for the vacant WBA lightweight title this weekend in Atlanta.
Updated: Dec. 26, 2019 • 12:15 PM ET
Gervonta Davis is looking to win another title this weekend.
Two title fights sure to produce fireworks will headline one of boxing’s final cards of 2019. The vacant WBA lightweight title will be on the line in the main event, as undefeated rising star Gervonta Davis will face former champion Yuriokis Gamboa this Saturday in Atlanta.
Davis (22-0, 21 KOs) is a two-time world champion, having held the IBF super featherweight title in 2017 and the WBA super featherweight title from 2018 to 2019. He most recently defended the WBA belt for the second time, defeating Ricardo Nunez by second-round TKO in July.
The last time the 25-year-old Davis did not finish a fight was in 2014 in just his ninth professional fight. He raised many questions when he decided to move up to lightweight and knows there’s much on the line against Gamboa.
"The spotlight will be on Atlanta," Davis recently said via Premier Boxing Champions. "They haven't had a big fight there in many years. So it's a dream to bring big-time boxing back just like I did in Baltimore.
“Atlanta welcomed me with open arms for so many years. I always knew I had a fan base and I always wanted to fight here. Now is the perfect time in my career for it to happen. I'm a fighter, but I'm also a fan. So I'm looking forward to it as much as everyone else. I'll give it my all, I know Gamboa will give it his all. It's going to be a great night on December 28."
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Davis still needs a marquee win over a big name, and a convincing win over Gamboa could get him one step closer to such a fight.
"I want to keep getting better and better inside that squared circle,” Davis said. “I hope Gamboa brings the best out of me so that people can see that I'm not just a power puncher. I have a lot of boxing skills.”
Since losing to Robinson Castellanos in 2017, Gamboa (30-2, 18 KOs) has won four straight fights, most recently defeating Roman Martinez by knockout in July, his first finish since 2014. The 37-year-old Gamboa is a former IBF and WBA featherweight champion, having held the titles between 2009 and 2011. He challenged Terence Crawford for the WBO lightweight title in 2014 and believes his experience has helped him prepare for a great opportunity to win another title.
"I feel great that I have this opportunity to prove in the ring what I can do,” Gamboa recently said at a media workout. “This is a fight that can get me back to the very top of the sport. After I signed my contract and I beat Roman Martinez in July, there were a number of names that came up as possible opponents that I could face in my second fight.
“One name that came up was Davis, so I took the challenge.”
In his professional career, Gamboa has key victories over Jonathan Victor Barros, Orlando Salido, Jorge Solis, Daniel Ponce de Leon and Darleys Perez. The Cuban fighter also thinks he has faced better opposition than the younger Davis.
"Obviously, I have a huge edge in experience and I think the quality of opponents I've faced, versus his opponents, gives me another edge,” Gamboa said. “Plus, the preparation I put into this fight. I really don't see anyone outworking me.
“The work that I put into this fight gives me a big advantage.”
Another title fight will be on Saturday’s card, as WBA light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal will face former champion Badou Jack.
Pascal (34-6-1, 20 KOs) last fought in August against Marcus Browne for the interim title, winning by eighth-round technical decision due to Browne being unable to continue after an accidental headbutt. The win was a big rebound for Pascal after losing a unanimous decision to Dmitry Bivol for the title last November.
The 37-year-old Pascal is a former WBC light heavyweight champion, having held the belt from 2009 to 2011. He challenged for the WBC super middleweight title in 2008 and entered the fight with Browne as an underdog, which he uses as motivation.
“I’ve been the underdog my whole career, so it's nothing new to me," Pascal said. "But I have to say that beating Marcus Browne did feel great. I showed the world that I'm special.
“I’ve been at the highest level of boxing for over 11 years, and I'm still here. I became two-time champion 10 years after winning the title the first time, I don't think that's ever been done in this division!"
Pascal has competed against some of the best in boxing, including Bernard Hopkins, Sergey Kovalev, Eleider Alvarez, Carl Froch and Bivol with victories over Lucian Bute, Chad Dawson and Adrian Dianconu. He’s prepared to defend his belt against a fighter who has been in championship fights before.
"Badou is a great fighter," Pascal said. "We both always look to fight the best. In my last fight, I knew that Marcus would be on his back foot, but Badou comes to fight, so I'm going to be war ready.
“I consider him a boxing friend, but on December 28th when that bell rings, he's the enemy."
Jack is a former WBC super middleweight title-holder from 2015 to 2017, and he also held the WBA light heavyweight title in 2017. He hasn’t fought in nearly a year since losing by unanimous decision to Browne in January, during which the two fighters brutally went back and forth for six rounds. Jack was badly cut by an accidental headbutt during the fight; and while he could continue, the cut hindered his performance and played a role in him losing the decision. Jack, however, believes he has learned from his fight with Browne.
“Mentally I’m better than I’ve ever been,” Jack said earlier this month via Mayweather Promotions. “I’m hungrier, and I feel like I did the first time I fought for the title. I’m always hungry, but I’m really excited for this fight.
“Sometimes losses make you better. My first loss was an accident, and I became better because of it. The loss to Marcus Browne, it wasn’t the fairest loss, but it’s made me even hungrier. I’m going to go out there and win the fight no matter what.”
The time off for Jack has been necessary, as he is 1-1-2 in his last four fights with the draws coming in title bouts against Adonis Stevenson and James DeGale. Despite his recent lack of success, the 36-year-old Jack has notable victories in his career over Bute, George Groves and Anthony Dirrell. He knows that Saturday’s opponent won’t be easy to get past either, and he’s ready to prove he’s still capable of being a world champion.
“Pascal and I sparred before, but it was a long time ago and sparring is way different than a real fight,” Jack said. “I’ve fought bigger punchers, but you have to respect the power of anyone in the ring. Anything can happen. You can get caught by someone who’s not a puncher.
“I know that I have a lot left to give this sport. I feel like I’m young for my age. The break between fights and bouncing back from a loss have made me more motivated than ever. I’m ready to go in and give the best performance of my career.”
• Start time/how to watch: The main card can be seen on Showtime at 9 p.m. this Saturday