Leo Santa Cruz’s confidence has Leonard Ellerbe’s guard up.
The more Santa Cruz demanded to fight Gervonta Davis, the more Ellerbe realized that the four-division champion doesn’t view Davis the way Ellerbe and many boxing fans see him. That is why Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, has repeatedly reminded Davis to avoid underestimating a tough, motivated veteran he is favored to beat.
Baltimore’s Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) and Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs), of Rosemead, California, have agreed to meet in a 12-round, 130-pound title fight later this year. The date and site for their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event have yet to be determined.
“Leo obviously thinks it’s a fight he can win,” Ellerbe told BoxingScene.com. “He and his team are working right now to come up with a game plan to get that done. Leo Santa Cruz is very confident he’s gonna beat Gervonta Davis. That is no shock to me because he’s a very confident fighter. And he’s bringing everything that he’s got to the table. No, he’s not no devastating puncher. No, he’s just not gonna walk right through people. But he has a relentless style that will give anybody problems. And he’s very confident that he can beat Tank Davis.
“So, from my standpoint, Tank is very confident that he can beat him, also. And I just told Tank, ‘Look, this guy is a four-division champion for a reason. And he has tons of experience.’ I’m very confident Tank can get the victory and get it done, but this ain’t nothing that you can be looking past, talking about fighting somebody else.”
The 31-year-old Santa Cruz’s chin has been one of his best assets during a 13-year pro career in which he has lost only a 12-round majority decision to former two-division champion Carl Frampton. The 25-year-old Davis, however, has knocked out all but one of his pro opponents, is commonly considered one of the most dangerous finishers in boxing and won’t have difficulty finding the aggressive, straightforward Santa Cruz.
“He’s gonna bring out the best in Tank,” Ellerbe said. “He’s gonna push Tank, and it’s gonna be a very good fight. I told Tank on more than one occasion that this is a very tough fight. Tank wants it, and Leo wants it. There’s a reason why Leo Santa Cruz has called out the biggest name in the 130-pound and 135-pound divisions. There’s a reason why. He didn’t call out no other name, other than the biggest name in the division.”
Davis, who is also the WBA world lightweight champion, will challenge Santa Cruz for the WBA “super” 130-pound crown Davis gave up when he moved up to the 135-pound division last year.
“Leo Santa Cruz is coming to win,” Ellerbe said. “He’s coming to win and he’s very confident that he’s gonna get it done. He went to Al [Haymon] and asked him for that fight, and kept on asking him for that fight. He kept on asking Al for that fight. So, I’m just kind of like, ‘Damn! OK.’ We spoke and Al just repeated what the kid said. He really wants to fight Tank.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.