Bob Arum was more impressed with Keyshawn Davis than ever Thursday night.
The 92-year-old promoter touted Davis’ improvement during his sixth-round stoppage of former two-division champion Jose Pedraza on the Teofimo Lopez-Jamaine Ortiz undercard in Las Vegas. Arum commended Davis (10-0, 7 KOs, 1 NC) for the patience and poise that the 2021 Olympic silver medalist demonstrated during his dominant performance against Pedraza, who was beaten by technical knockout for just the second time in his 13-year pro career.
“He looked the best he’s looked since he’s been with us,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “It was not even close.”
The 24-year-old Davis needed that type of performance to rebuild the momentum he established before his 10-round, majority-decision victory over Nahir Albright in his previous fight October 14 in Rosenberg, Texas.
Davis’ positive test for marijuana caused the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation to suspend Davis for 90 days after he beat Albright. The result of his narrow win against Albright (16-2, 7 KOs, 1 NC) was subsequently changed to a no-contest, but picking apart Pedraza enabled Davis to move past that ordeal.
As optimistic as Arum is about his potential after Davis’ domination of Pedraza, the Top Rank Inc. founder doesn’t think the timing is quite right for Davis to move up from the lightweight limit of 135 pounds to challenge Lopez for the Brooklyn native’s WBO 140-pound championship.
Davis called out Lopez in the ring after he stopped Pedraza. Lopez (20-1, 13 KOs) dismissed Davis as undeserving of a shot at his WBO belt following Lopez’s controversial 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Ortiz (17-2-1, 8 KOs) in the comparatively mundane main event.
“I know Keyshawn wants to fight him,” Arum said, “but I think it’s a little too early for Keyshawn, although Keyshawn surprised me [Thursday] night. He was incredibly good against an experienced fighter.”
Davis, of Norfolk, Virginia, has participated in only 11 professional fights, yet he joined one of boxing’s biggest stars, Gervonta Davis, as the only fighters who’ve stopped Pedraza inside the distance. While impressive versus Pedraza (29-6-1, 14 KOs), a former IBF junior lightweight and WBO lightweight champion, the 26-year-old Lopez is a more talented, fresher fighter who remains in his physical prime.
“I don’t think so,” Arum replied when asked if Davis is ready to oppose Lopez. “But a lot of these young guys are so good that they’re pressing to fight top challenges. But I think with Teofimo, the [Top Rank matchmakers] will come up with a reasonable opponent for his next fight.”
Two of the most appealing potential opponents for Lopez in the 140-pound division, WBC champ Devin Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) and Ryan Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs), announced Friday that they’ll fight each other in a DAZN Pay-Per-View main event April 20 at a venue to be determined in Las Vegas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.