It’s not a matter of who for Gervonta Davis, but when.
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe told BoxingScene.com in an interview Wednesday that the next time Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) steps into a ring for a prize fight, the opponent standing across from him will be four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1 19 KOs).
The fight was originally slated to take place in June in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, but the coronavirus crisis immediately put a halt to those plans before a deal could be finalized and announced.
When the fight eventually takes place, it will be presented by Showtime pay per view.
“Leo Santa Cruz will be Tank’s next fight and we’re working through all the aspects of when that might be. We’re working through the details as we speak. We were headed in one direction, and then the pandemic came. We’re regrouping. I can assure you and the fans that both guys want the fight,” said Ellerbe. “Leo is very adamant to fight the biggest and baddest guy out there in Tank Davis. I respect that. It’s a great time for the 130 and 135 pound division. There are a number of excellent fights that can be made. Tank will show all of the critics why he’s one of the best fighters in the world.”
One critical term that will still need ironing out before contracts are signed is the weight class in which the fight will take place.
Santa Cruz made his junior lightweight debut in November with a workman-like, unanimous decision win over Miguel Flores for the WBA super featherweight title. The belt he took home was vacated by Davis.
Davis made his 135 debut against Yuriorkis Gamboa in December with a 12th round TKO win and grabbed a vacant WBA lightweight belt. Davis initially had trouble making the lightweight limit but did so successfully the second time after stripping down a short time after.
Santa Cruz told BoxingScene.com that he would fight Davis at either 135 pounds, or 130 pounds, but his preference would be at the junior lightweight limit.
Stephen Espinoza, president of sports and event programming for Showtime, expects to air the fight as soon as the pandemic is over, and right after fans can begin flocking back to arenas again.
“We were very close [to finalizing a deal before coronavirus],” Espinoza said. “It’s an interesting one, because the fight will do a very good gate regardless of where it is. The fight could fit naturally in Los Angeles. If LA is not ready, certainly Vegas or Texas would make reasonable choices. I do think that will be one of the first few fights we have when we’re back in business.
“A lot of people were surprised at that match-up. Leo is absolutely adamant that he wants the fight. It’s the only fight he wants. He sees something in Davis that guarantees him success. Tank is a physical challenge for anyone, but Leo is undaunted and he’s persistent.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.
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