The junior lightweight tilt between Gervonta Davis and Leo Santa Cruz on Saturday will be a tale of two styles — devastating knockout power for the former, and volume aggression and pestering assault from the latter.
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe believes Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) will bring out little-seen wrinkles from Davis’ (23-0, 22 KOs) game once the Showtime pay-per-view (9 p.m. ET / $74.99) kicks off.
“Leo is a come-forward fighter who brings a lot of pressure. He throws tons of punches. There is no secret in what he does — he’s always looking to outwork and out-hustle his opponent. He’s a champion for a reason,” Ellerbe told BoxingScene.com in an interview.
“What people don’t know about Tank is that he’s a tremendous boxer. He hasn’t had a chance to go into his bag to really show it. They just think he plows through the competition. Leo is definitely the best fighter Tank has ever faced. I’m very confident that Leo’s style is going to bring out the best in Tank. He puts a lot of pressure, and he makes you do certain things that you’re not used to doing. We’re going to get a chance to see Tank’s boxing abilities. Tank could do it all, and that’s why this is going to be a highly competitive and very entertaining fight.”
Santa Cruz is one of the sport’s busiest fighters, throwing punches in bunches in every affair. The knockout artist Davis will have to fend off the four-division champion Santa Cruz’s relentless pressure to make his case on the scorecards, and to hurt the Mexican fighter for a potential stoppage.
Neither fighter looked remarkable the last time they showcased their skills in late 2019.
Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) did just enough in his junior lightweight debut to get past Miguel Flores, mustering scores of 115-112, 117-110 and 117-110 in November to win a version of the 130 pound WBA title Davis had vacated. Santa Cruz said after the bout he was sick during fight week and couldn’t fight to his full potential.
Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) scored a 12th round knockout of 2004 Olympics gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa in December. The Cuban suffered an Achilles tendon injury in the second round that required surgery after the fight, but Davis allowed for the 38-year-old former unified featherweight champion to hang around longer than anticipated before connecting with the finishing blow.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.