By Jake Donovan
After coming off a year that saw him land just one fight, Gervonta Davis was less interested in where his next fight would take place as much as it being the first of a much busier 2019 in-ring campaign.
The unbeaten 24-year old from Baltimore, Md. will make the first defense of his second tour as a super featherweight titlist when he faces former three-division title claimant Abner Mares. Their Showtime-televised contest will take place February 9 in Carson, California, mere minutes from Mares’ Los Angeles hometown.
The lone successful defense of Davis’ first title reign also came on the road, scoring a 3rd round knockout of England’s Liam Walsh in May ’16 in London just four months after dethroning previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza in Brooklyn, New York.
Aside from a willingness to just remain active, the chance to prove himself against a former titlist fighting in front of a partisan crowd only provides that much more motivation.
“Abner is a great fighter, he has a big fan base out there (in California),” Davis (20-0, 19KOs) told Showtime’s Brian Custer while in Las Vegas for Manny Pacquiao’s win over Adrien Broner atop a Showtime Pay-Per-View event. “When Al came to me with the fight, I thought about when Floyd (Mayweather, former five-division champ and Davis’ promoter) fought (the late Arturo) Gatti.
“Gatti wanted to fight Floyd so bad that Floyd said, ‘Alright, I’ll fight you in your backyard.’ I’m willing do the same in front of Mares’ fans.”
The fight to which Davis refers is when Mayweather traveled to Atlantic City for his June ’05 140-pound title challenge of Gatti, who at the time was a wildly popular attraction in that region. Mayweather prevailed in a one-sided, six-round slaughter on a night that also marked his first as a Pay-Per-View headliner.
The now 40-year old former five-division champion would become the highest-grossing athlete in boxing history, owning the four best-selling Pay-Per-View events of all time. That it all began with a road trip isn’t at all lost on Davis, who welcomes not only the chance to fight in Mares’ backyard, but adding to his résumé his most accomplished opponent to date.
“He has edge in experience and he throws a lot of punches,” Davis notes of what the 33-year old former titlist at 118, 122 and 126 pounds brings to the table. “He’s been in there with a lot of world champions. I’m not his first. So, I know he’ll be ready.”
The fight will also mark Davis’ first in California, having only fought four times previously on the West Coast—thrice in Las Vegas and once in Shelton, Washington.
Davis’ upcoming title defense versus Mares (31-3-1, 15KOs) will be his first fight since knocking out former featherweight titlist Jesus Cuellar in three rounds last April to win his second belt at 130 pounds.