ATLANTA – Mario Barrios has prepared as if Gervonta Davis will be every bit the pulverizing puncher in Barrios’ weight class as he has been while tearing through the two lower divisions in which Davis has thrived.
Barrios just wants boxing fans to realize that this isn’t merely a dangerous fight for him. It is Davis, after all, that has moved up two weight classes – from the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds to the 140-pound division – to challenge Barrios for his WBA world super lightweight title Saturday night at State Farm Arena.
Most Internet sports books list Baltimore’s Davis as a 5-1 favorite to beat Barrios (26-0, 17 KOs). The San Antonio native is determined, however, to prove Davis (24-0, 23 KOs) and his handlers made an enormous mistake by choosing him for Davis’ debut in the junior welterweight division.
“There’s gonna be fireworks,” Barrios said Wednesday night during an open workout at the College Football Hall of Fame. “Tank’s explosive, I’m explosive. You know, both of us are dangerous fighters, both undefeated and we’re both hungry.”
The 26-year-old Barrios also acknowledged Davis – while much shorter than him and unproven in this division – is the most imposing opponent of his seven-year pro career.
“No doubt about it – Tank is, by far, the toughest test,” Barrios said. “But again, this is me having another title defense and I’m gonna do whatever it takes to be successful on Saturday.”
Barrios and Davis remained respectful of each other during their open workout. Neither fighter has talked trash during the mundane buildup toward their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event (9 p.m. EDT; $74.99).
“I’m just excited to be in this position, to be able to give the fans what they wanna see, and that’s an exciting fight,” Davis said. “You know, Atlanta showed me nothing but love the last time I came, so why not come back, you know? This is one of my toughest fights, on paper, so I’ll be ready and hopefully he’ll be ready, and we’ll give the fans what they wanna see.”
An announced crowd of 14,129 attended the 26-year-old Davis’ first fight in Atlanta. The two-division champion dropped Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa three times in that WBA world lightweight championship match, which Davis won by 12th-round technical knockout in December 2019 at State Farm Arena, the home venue of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.