Gervonta Davis will lead the charge in a December loaded with the sport’s top lightweights.
The unbeaten former junior lightweight champ and current WBA “World” lightweight and junior welterweight titlist confirmed his ring return, which will come versus rival Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero. The grudge match between unbeaten lightweights will take place December 5—a Sunday evening—on Showtime Pay-Per-View from Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I’m BACK..3rd PPV,” Davis confirmed Wednesday afternoon. “I never seen pass a world title coming up..so many died on the way up, I gave ‘em heart & dedication put this shit on my back and kept going..Blessings!
“[December] 5th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Showtime PPV vs Rolando Romero. Get ready!”
Representatives from Showtime and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) were not in position to confirm nor deny the event, as it has not been formally announced by either entity. Mayweather Promotions confirmed the event in a subsequent tweet.
Baltimore’s Davis (25-0, 24KOs) gets to check off several boxes with the fight. The pairing allows the unbeaten southpaw knockout artist to clear off a mandatory title defense, as Las Vegas’ Romero (14-0, 12KOs) was inserted as the number-one contender after losing his interim title status due to the WBA eliminating the belts from existence this past August. It also settles a long-brewing rivalry between the two, both of whom are promoted by Mayweather Promotions and who fight under the PBC banner.
Davis will headline his third consecutive Showtime PPV event, having made his platform debut in a sensational sixth-round knockout of former four-division titlist Leo Santa Cruz last Halloween at Alamodome in San Antonio. Davis made his junior welterweight debut in his most recent start, an 11th round knockout of Mario Barrios atop a Showtime PPV event aired this past June from a sold-out State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
The bout versus Romero will mark Davis’ return to lightweight, where he claimed a vacant secondary WBA title in a 12th round knockout of Yuriorkis Gamboa. The December 2019 bout also took place at State Farm Arena, his first appearance in his adopted Atlanta hometown and his last as a Showtime headliner before transitioning exclusively to PPV.
Davis’ win over Barrios came with the WBA “World” junior welterweight title at stake, while also holding the WBA “World” lightweight and WBA “Super” junior lightweight titles. In its efforts to reduce its number of beltholders, the WBA began ordering a series of title consolidation bouts in addition to eliminating interim titles.
While the fight with Romero was not specifically ordered, Davis was instructed to inform the sanctioning body which of the three titles he planned to next defend. He gave up the junior lightweight belt, asking for permission to retain the other two at least through his next fight at which point he will be required to give up at least one belt.
That’s if he wins.
Romero has repeatedly called for a showdown with Davis, unmercifully slandering the rising star through social media. His outspoken nature makes for a polarizing figure, though not doing him in any favors following a highly questionable twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Jackson Mariñez last August 15 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Romero claimed the WBA “interim” lightweight title with the win in a fight many observers felt should have been scored in favor of Mariñez.
Romero has since earned back-to-back seventh-round knockout wins in 2021, though both coming in non-title affairs. Avery Sparrow accepted a fight on less than 24 hours’ notice after originally scheduled opponent Justin Pauldo badly missed weight and ultimately had to withdraw from their January 23 fight due to medical reasons. Sparrow was officially 136 pounds as the standby opponent, thus unable to fight for the interim title though not putting up much of an effort before the Showtime-televised fight was stopped 0:43 into round seven.
Former junior welterweight title challenger Anthony Yigit was more than five pounds over the lightweight limit for his knockout loss to Romero this past July 17 at AT&T Center in San Antonio. Romero agreed to go through with the fight, scoring three knockdowns en route to the knockout ending before soaking in a chorus of boos from the crowd on hand, in support of the undisputed junior middleweight championship between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano.
The upcoming event marks the third time this year where Showtime will produce and distribute a PPV telecast on a Sunday evening. The premium cable giant went that route in a June 5 PPV topped by the exhibition match between all-time box-office king Floyd Mayweather and social media influencer Logan Paul. The event reportedly generated 1,000,000 PPV buys, though with Showtime voluntarily refunding select customers who experienced technical issues with the show,
Less than three months later, Jake Paul—Logan’s younger brother—made his Showtime debut atop a Sunday night PPV event August 29 in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Paul (4-0, 3KOs) went the distance for the first time in his career, outpointing former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. Final numbers were never released, though with industry sources suggesting the event sold 500,000 PPV units.
Davis-Romero faces a different challenge going on a Sunday in December. The event will go head-to-head with Sunday Night Football on NBC. The current schedule shows the Seattle Seahawks facing the San Francisco 49ers, though the NFL traditionally flexes in the most relevant game of the week during that time of the regular season.
Earlier in the week, Davis’ head trainer Calvin Ford informed reporters that his top fighter was due to return December 4, a Saturday evening and traditional for major boxing events. Davis’ confirmation across various social media platforms confirms a shift from that practice, though with the weekend still igniting a big month for lightweight boxing. WBA “Super”/IBF/WBO lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) will likely defend his belts versus IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) during the month. The oft-postponed fight is now in the promotional hands of Matchroom Boxing, as is the next title defense for WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney (26-0, 15KOs) versus an opponent to be determined. Former unified lightweight and three-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko (15-2, 11KOs) is due to headline the December 11 edition of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN.
Still ongoing are talks for unbeaten lightweight Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18KOs), who is expected to fight in the final month of the year be it versus Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz or another option.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox