Well before his arrival at junior lightweight, Leo Santa Cruz sought the biggest challenge possible at the new weight and always had a hunch it would be Gervonta Davis to answer the call.

Ironically, the forced delay in getting to the fight he’s always craved could work to his benefit.

“Ever since the pandemic, I’ve been working out to build up my upper body strength,” Santa Cruz told BoxingScene.com ahead of his October 31 showdown with Baltimore’s Davis (23-0, 22KOs), which tops a Showtime Pay-Per-View live from The Alamodome in San Antonio. “Before the pandemic, the heaviest I would weight was 141, maybe 142.

“For this training camp I’ve weighed 148, 149. This is the biggest I’ve ever been, my body is growing and I’m feeling much stronger at this new weight.”

Tentative plans called for Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19KOs) and Davis to collide earlier this year, initially aiming for the spring and then early summer. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic ruined those plans, though the four-division and reigning 130-pound titlist never stopped preparing for what is physically—and perhaps literally—the biggest fight of his storied career.

Santa Cruz only arrived at 130 last November, claiming a vacant belt in a 12-round win over Miguel Flores. The win came nine months after making the fourth and final successful defense of his featherweight title over two reigns, after having previously won belts at bantamweight and junior featherweight.

Davis has spent the majority of his career fighting at 130- and 135-pounds, having won a secondary lightweight title in his most recent start last December. The sense is that Santa Cruz will have to box while an all-out war would favor the heavier-handed Davis, although the measures taken in training camp are designed to prevent from being physically bullied in any way in the ring next weekend.

“I’m doing different strength and conditioning workouts in the gym to make my body bigger,” insists Santa Cruz. “I’m also eating more, drinking more protein shakes and taking the right vitamins.

“It feels really great. I’m still eating good and healthy. I’m at the point in training camp where a lot of fighters have to worry about cutting weight. I’m feeling strong and healthy.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox