Most of the predictions seem to land one way for a fight view as a relatively even matchup.
But not everyone is picking Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis to beat Ryan Garcia this weekend.
William Zepeda (27-0, 23KOs) will be among the more interested observers for the Davis-Garcia clash this Saturday from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The bout—which headlines a Showtime Pay-Per-View event from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas—carries a contracted maximum weight limit of 136 pounds, just one pound above lightweight where all Davis, Garcia and Zepeda are all regarded among the division’s best.
Baltimore’s Davis (28-0, 26KOs) is a -250 to prevail according to bet365 sportsbook, which lists Garcia (23-0, 19KOs) as a +200 underdog. Zepeda is riding with the upset, providing that the 5’10” Garcia puts his considerable height and reach advantages to proper use.
“In my opinion this is a 50/50 fight. It can go either way,” Zepeda told BoxingScene.com. “Both fighters have qualities that play into their favor and can affect their opponent. I think Ryan can win if he fights like a tall fighter. He uses his height well to leverage his power and set up his punches,
“Even though it’s technically a catchweight, the 136-pound limit they are fighting at is a natural weight for Ryan, If he can connect like I believe he can, I don’t believe that Tank will be able to handle that power and properly respond. For that reason—and maybe for only that reason—I lean slightly towards Ryan.”
Original plans called for the rising lightweight contender to face Panama’s Jaime Arboleda (19-2, 14KOs) in the evening’s chief support. That bout was relocated to an April 29 DAZN show in Arlington, Texas that was in desperate need of a relevant bout after losing its original headliner.
Either way, Zepeda plans to face the winner this weekend. Zepeda and Garcia are both promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, which theoretically would make it easier to piece together such a fight. However, Garcia is now fighting for the third straight time above the lightweight limit and will likely grow into a full-fledged junior welterweight.
From a commercial and practical standpoint, Zepeda would greater benefit from fighting Davis who holds the WBA ‘Regular’ lightweight title. There is a chance that such a fight could still pan out, as Davis seems to comfortably make the 135-pound limit and has found ways to beat a variety of fighters in three different weight divisions.
The 5’5 ½” southpaw is the only fighter to stop former four-division titlist Leo Santa Cruz, doing so with a sensational one-punch knockout in their October 2020 clash. The bout was Davis’ last at junior lightweight; he then moved up two divisions to face Mario Barrios, whom he stopped in the eleventh round of their June 2021 Showtime PPV headliner to win a secondary WBA title at junior welterweight.
Davis has since returned to lightweight, where he fights for the fourth straight time.
Garcia has spent his past two fights at junior welterweight after having knocked out five straight fighters at lightweight. The most notable of the bunch at 135 was his off-the-canvas, seventh-round stoppage of 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and former title challenger Luke Campbell in January 2021, Garcia’s last at the weight and only fight of that year before resurfacing last year as a 140-pound fighter.
Two wins have followed; a twelve-round decision over a non-engaging Emmanuel Tagoe last April 9, and a sixth-round knockout of former secondary titlist Javier Fortuna last July 16.
Statistically, Davis boasts the much stronger resume and is among the sport’s best finishers. That is not at all lost on Zepeda, who—for the sake of offering a pick—doesn’t believe it will be enough in an otherwise coin-flip affair.
“Tank is very strong and also fast,” admitted Zepeda, who is coming off a lopsided twelve-round victory over former titlist Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz last October in San Diego. “He is not given enough credit for his speed and his ring IQ. He is one of the very best lightweights in the world, there Is no question about it.
“But for this matchup, I don’t believe he will be able to handle Ryan’s power well enough to beat him like he has everyone else.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox