Gervonta Davis has agreed to move back down to the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds for his showdown with Leo Santa Cruz.
Yet even though Davis and Santa Cruz contractually are obligated to weigh in at the junior lightweight maximum of 130, Davis’ 135-pound title will be at stake October 24 as well. They’ll fight for Davis’ WBA world lightweight title and Santa Cruz’s WBA “super” super featherweight championship when they square off in a Showtime Pay-Per-View main event tentatively set to take place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Baltimore’s Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) and Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs), of Rosemead, California, agreed to fight for both belts. The situation is highly unusual, however, because Davis’ lightweight title will be on the line in a fight that is contractually capped at the junior lightweight limit.
It isn’t clear whether the WBA will charge Davis and Santa Cruz two sanctioning fees apiece for fighting for versions of its 130-pound and 135-pound titles.
“They’ll both be weighing in at 130, but both the ’30 and ’35 titles will be at stake,” Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, said during a virtual press conference Wednesday. “We’ve done some research, and the most obvious example is Ray Leonard [and Donny Lalonde]. It’s something that’s done very infrequently, and it’s a bonus for that event.”
Leonard and Lalonde fought for the WBC light heavyweight and super middleweight titles in November 1988, despite that neither fighter weighed in above the super middleweight maximum of 168 pounds. Leonard officially weighed 165 pounds, two pounds lighter than Lalonde, whom Leonard defeated by ninth-round technical knockout at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Davis and Santa Cruz will fight for the 130-pound championship Davis vacated to move up to the lightweight division late last year. Santa Cruz won the then-vacant WBA “super” 130-pound crown when he out-pointed Houston’s Miguel Flores (24-3, 12 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder November 23 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Five weeks later, Davis’ struggles making weight continued, even after moving up from 130 pounds to 135. He initially weighed in at 136¼ pounds for his lightweight debut, but Davis came back to the Georgia Athletic & Entertainment Commission’s scale and officially weighed 134½ pounds for his lightweight debut against Yuriorkis Gamboa on December 28 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Davis dropped Cuba’s Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs) three times and stopped him in the 12th round to win the WBA world lightweight title, its secondary crown in that division. Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), the WBA’s “super” title-holder, is considered its true lightweight champion.
Two years earlier, Davis gave up his IBF junior lightweight title at the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s scale because he was two pounds overweight for a title defense against Francisco Fonseca in August 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Davis knocked out Fonseca in the eighth round on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard.
If Davis comes in overweight for the Santa Cruz fight, he’ll have to pay a substantial financial penalty. They then could still fight for Davis’ lightweight title, assuming Santa Cruz would agree to do it.
Espinoza expects Davis to make 130 pounds without incident this time, though.
“Look, he’s motivated here,” Espinoza said regarding Davis’ debut as a pay-per-view headliner. “I don’t think there will be any problems making weight on this one.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.