The talking has picked up enough for all to be warned: parental discretion advised for post-fight interviews. A light shove added to the build at Friday’s weigh-in, though both fighters seem to be having fun between the hostilities. This was after a final pre-fight press conference where Rolando Romero said Gervonta Davis looked like a koala with chlamydia and Davis answered questions about Romero’s style by saying, “He’s not a awkward fighter. He’s just a dumb-ass fighter.”
Also in the background are questions about whether Davis will continue to work with Floyd Mayweather to add some backstage intrigue.
Yes, it’s been a fun build to Saturday’s main event (Showtime PPV, 8 PM EST).
It’s been almost enough fun to obscure the unknown going in. Romero has been in with some good fighters but we’ve never seen him genuinely at the top contender level much less the championship level of the sport Davis occupies. Romero got lucky in a decision against Jackson Marinez and looked pretty good against Anthony Ygit and that’s about all the proof of concept we have.
The jury is out on whether Romero really belongs in the ring with Davis.
Gervonta Davis is an explosive jury.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Previous Titles: IBF Super Featherweight (2017, 1 Defense); WBA Super Featherweight (2018-19, 2 Defenses; 2020-21)
Height: 5’5 ½
Weight: 133 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Baltimore, Maryland
Record: 26-0, 24 KO
Press Rankings: At 135 - #1 (BoxRec), #3 (TBRB, ESPN), #4 (Ring); At 140 - #6 (TBRB)
Record in Major Title Fights: 6-0, 6 KO (9-0, 8 KO including WBA sub-titles)
Last Five Opponents: 136-6-2 (.951)
Notable Outcomes, Ring/TBRB Rated Foes: Jose Pedraza TKO7; Leo Santa Cruz KO6; Mario Barrios TKO11; Issac Cruz UD12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Hugo Ruiz KO1; Yuriorkis Gamboa TKO12
*Holds WBA sub-title at lightweight
Title/Previous Titles: None*
Weight: 134 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: Las Vegas, Nevada
Record: 14-0 (12 KO)
Press Rankings: #6 (TBRB), #9 (Ring)
Record in Major Title Fights: N/A (2-0, 1 KO including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 72-4-1 (.942)
Notable Outcomes, Ring/TBRB Rated Foes: None
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
*Held WBA interim title at lightweight
The Pick: Both men can punch and that’s part of the allure of this match. Romero throws hard from odd angles and often can end up in clinches where he also digs hard. Against Ygit, it cost him a point and the rough stuff could be a factor Saturday as well. Romero may not want to risk losing points on the cards if the fight goes deep.
That’s a big if.
Standing eye to eye, Romero with shoes on didn’t look almost three inches taller than Davis though it could look different in the ring. In terms of arm length, the shorter man may have the advantage. That advantage marries up to an edge to Davis in hand and foot speed, head movement, experience, technique, and punching accuracy.
Both men can win more than one way. Either can land the big shot that ends things. Romero can make the fight ugly and win rounds by physically nullifying Davis. Davis can outbox Romero, moving in and out and being first all night. When Romero loads up, Davis is going to have crater-sized openings to come down the middle and land between shots. If Davis can step out of range before Romero can fall into clinches in those spots, there is the chance this fight turns into a nasty beating.
The question is how much can Romero take in pursuit of a fight changing shot and whether he can ever find it. That doesn’t even approach a significant question: what if Romero lands and Davis can take the incoming fine? Davis isn’t unhittable but he’s handled fire so far. If Romero’s puncher’s chance is offset by Davis’s chin, Romero might have no chance at all.
Without any real evidence Romero can compete at this level yet, and almost no tactical advantages evident besides the potential for smart clinch work, there is just no reason to think Romero wins this fight. There are reasons to think he can make it fun for a while, and Davis can be a slow starter, so the pick is Davis by stoppage in the second half of the fight.
Rold Picks 2022: 23-6
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org