Fight Picks: Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia
Popular lightweights Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia will meet in a 136-pound catchweight contest at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday
The eagerly anticipated showdown will be broadcast live on Showtime/DAZN Pay-Per-View for $84.99 at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT and in Canada, Germany, Italy and New Zealand on Fite.tv.
Davis, The Ring’s No. 2-rated lightweight, dominated his opposition on the way up before impressively ripping the IBF 130-pound title from Jose Pedraza (TKO 7). Since then, his star has risen and he is one of the most popular attractions in America, regularly selling out arenas across the country and performing on Showtime Pay-Per-View.
The 28-year-old power-punching southpaw owns a highlight-reel knockout over Leo Santa Cruz (KO 6) and showed that his vaunted power carries up in weight by coming on strong to stop the much larger Mario Barrios (TKO 11) at 140 pounds. “Tank” also won when not at his best against Isaac Cruz (UD 12), took care of Rolando Romero (TKO 6) and, most recently, WBA 130-pound titlist Hector Luis Garcia (TKO 9).
Garcia, The Ring’s No. 3-rated lightweight, is every bit the new-age fighter; he’s a social media phenom, with millions of followers (9.5 million on Instagram). But there were question marks as to whether Garcia’s boxing achievements would live up to his outside-the-ring persona. He has since allayed some of the doubts by showcasing his vaunted power against Romero Duno (KO 1), Francisco Fonseca (KO 1) and two-time title challenger Luke Campbell (TKO 7).
The 24-year-old didn’t fight for 15 months due to mental health concerns but knocked off the ring rust when he dominated Emmanuel Tagoe (UD 12) and, in his most recent outing, “King Ry” looked very impressive knocking out wily campaigner Javier Fortuna (KO 6).
Both men enter the contest unbeaten and supremely confident. However, both know that one mistake could be fatal. Who will keep his composure better on such a big night? Davis (28-0, 26 knockouts) has by far the better resume and is used to dealing with bigger men, but how will that play out against the much faster Garcia? Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs) is very flashy, but can he gut it out if things get tough? Will Davis be distracted by outside the ring issues stemming from a recent domestic abuse case against him? Davis fought in January, while Garcia balked at a similar opportunity; will he have any ring rust from his time off? The rehydration clause favors Davis — will it play a part in depleting Garcia’s energy later in the fight?
Online gambling group William Hill lists Davis as a 4/11 (-275) favorite, while Garcia is priced at 2/1 (+200). The draw is 16/1 (+1600).
Here’s how the experts see it:
DOUG FISCHER: DAVIS TKO
“I think it will be a low-volume boxing match, at least during long stretches over the first half of the bout, due to the respect the lightweights have for each other’s power. Both will look to set traps and clip the other with their vaunted left hands, which could make the crowd antsy at times, but the matchup will inevitably produce explosive exchanges that will add the intensity and thrills that fans tuned in for. I think Davis will take his time in the early rounds and likely get outpointed by Garcia, who will fire off fast, long-range jabs and straight rights. If Davis gets even grazed by one of Garcia’s hooks, I expect him to grab and hold on until his head clears. Once in the middle rounds, Davis will begin to punch with more authority and rattle the confidence of the younger, lesser-experienced fighter. I think Joe Goossen will help Garcia keep it together in-between rounds, but Davis’ punch variety (especially with the left landing to the chest and head) will gradually take the influencer’s legs and produce knockdowns that prompt either the Garcia corner or the referee to wave the bout off. Davis late TKO.”
ANSON WAINWRIGHT: DAVIS TKO 9
“This is a new age fight between two very popular fighters. I think the promotional build-up has been fun. However, inside the ring, I feel one was born to do this and the other has worked hard to become what he is. God-gifted usually wins out, and I see no difference here. Davis will take a look at Garcia early on and then close the distance and start to land his own shots. Garcia has never been in with anyone like Davis, and that will show. I think Davis will break down Garcia and stop him in around nine rounds.”
LEE GROVES: DAVIS KO 10
“The contrasts between the two will make this a fascinating fight, and if Garcia is to win, he will need to inflict significant damage sometime during the first three rounds when Davis is in study hall mode, because 14 of his 19 knockouts have occurred in the first two rounds. But in order to fully exploit Davis’ slow start, Garcia must generate sufficient work rate, and his statistical history suggests he fights at a modest pace. Also, while Garcia will enjoy considerable height and reach advantages, he is not a long-range, points-oriented boxer by nature; he is a predatory puncher who happens to have long levers. Meanwhile, once Davis identifies his proper range and starts to let his hands go, he connects with incredible precision and power. The guess is that Garcia may win the early rounds, but his fate will be sealed once Davis downloads, then unloads.”
DIEGO MORILLO: GARCIA KO 6
“It may appear as a brutal departure from the idea that Davis is the most experienced and battle-hardened of the pair (and he certainly is), but I am seriously inclined to go with the shocker here. Garcia wants this fight, badly, and for a reason. He knows he needs a signature win to put his career on track to superstardom, and if his GPS-laser-guided left hook finds a way to crash on Davis’ most vulnerable spots, he will be in position to score his first career-defining win with a bang. Not betting my rent money on this, but I still expect Garcia to turn all that pent-up anger and frustration into a memorable performance.”
MARTY MULCAHEY: GARCIA PTS
“It is great to see these guys finally meet in the ring after barking at each other on social media for two years. It could be that Gervonta Davis waited a year too long, allowing Ryan Garcia to mature physically and in terms of boxing experience. In a relatively even matchup I fall back to one of my most basic theories on boxing: speed over power. I think Garcia is the faster of the duo with his hands or fists, and given Tank’s inability to track down foes until four or five rounds have passed, it could cost him on the scorecards. The other big question is if Garcia can stand up to Davis’ vaunted power. I believe he can, partially because Garcia is the bigger man (5 inches taller, 3-inch reach advantage) and partially because I think Garcia will see Davis’ punches coming. Garcia will have to survive an onslaught in the championship rounds, but I think a final tally in the area of 7 rounds to 5 in favor of Garcia will be the outcome.”
NORM FRAUENHEIM: DAVIS TKO 9
“Ryan Garcia promises a nap. Tank Davis promises violence. Pick violence. Tank simply has more ways to deliver what he promises than Garcia, who might add a few more tricks to his left hook. Davis has dismissed Garcia as one-dimensional. But that was before the Joe Goossen dimension arrived in Garcia’s corner. Goossen and Garcia have been together for two fights since Garcia left Eddy Reynoso. They’ve learned about each other and perhaps learned enough to add to Garcia’s skill set. He’ll need every new trick he’s practiced in the gym. The complication, however, rests in the contract’s rehydration clause. It threatens to leave Garcia fatigued just when Davis is at his punishing best.”
DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): DAVIS TKO
“The much-anticipated showdown is fast approaching. This fight will be painfully one-sided, aesthetically. Garcia looks great, tall, rangy, nice boxer but clearly in my mind hasn’t boxed anybody remotely near Davis’ class. There is a misconception that Davis is purely a knockout specialist; however, he is much more than that, a patient predator and an excellent boxer who matures from fight to fight. This won’t last more than seven rounds. As soon as Davis gets close enough to land any one of his trademark punches, like the left uppercut or the right hook or the overhand left, it’s lights out. I cannot make a case for Garcia winning this fight. Garcia would be well-served not to engage with Davis at any point in the fight. His only hope of winning this fight would be to put on a boxing masterclass display for 12 rounds — thus far no one has managed to do that against Davis.”
MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): DAVIS TKO 8
“I find that this fight is hard to predict. There are many elements that can influence the result of this fight, like the fact that Garcia looks so big next to Davis. The weight at which they signed the contract, the rehydration clause, etc. The fact both boxers are good punchers — who will connect with the other first? But at the end of the day, a good boxer is a good boxer and I believe Davis is more complete than Garcia and will eventually dominate this fight. I see Davis stopping Garcia in the last part of the fight.”
CAMILLE ESTEPHAN (PROMOTER, EYE OF THE TIGER PROMOTIONS): DAVIS PTS
“Davis will have to work hard to get on the inside and get past Garcia’s reach. But the upright chin of Garcia and his often-loose guard should give Davis the opportunities he needs to win the fight unequivocally. I see Davis winning a decision.”
SERGIO MORA (FORMER JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER/ COMMENTATOR): DAVIS TKO
“I can visualize this fight getting physical to violent really quick. Tank usually doesn’t start fast, but Ryan will make him change that. Both will want to send a message and won’t back down until someone goes down. I can see both getting hurt, maybe both going down too. And that type of fight favors Davis. I like Tank under five rounds.”
TOM GRAY (FORMER MANAGING EDITOR FOR THE RING): GARCIA UD
“I can feel the heat already. I’ve thought long and hard about this fight and can make a strong case for either guy. Ultimately, I’m going against the grain on both the result and the method of victory. The talk is that this fight can’t go the distance, but I disagree. Tank has never been down as a pro, and I can’t even recall him being stunned. Garcia has been down once, courtesy of Luke Campbell, and he shook it off and scored a stoppage. Both men are in their 20s and they don’t know how to lose. Garcia has been upselling his left hook throughout the build-up, which could be subterfuge. He has enormous advantages in terms of height and reach and would benefit from keeping it long. If he fights to his strengths and picks Tank off, I can see Garcia winning a comfortable decision in the biggest fight of his life.”
KATHY DUVA (PROMOTER, MAIN EVENTS): DAVIS
“Let me start by saying that I love Ryan Garcia. He is a throwback fighter in the sense that he wants to fight the very best. He demanded this fight and I don’t believe that the fight would be happening had he not done so. So, my heart is most definitely with him. However, my gut tells me that Davis is likely to stop Garcia during one of the middle rounds. Let’s say the fifth. Davis is just too rugged and his power is real. He will test Garcia’s chin early. Meanwhile, Garcia will likely be too eager to engage. And I just don’t think Garcia has the firepower to keep Davis off of him for too long.”
JOLENE MIZZONE (MANAGER): GARCIA UD
“This was a very hard pick for me. When the fight was first made, I was going with Davis 100 percent, but the more I looked into it, I think Davis may have a problem with Garcia’s reach and height. If Garcia sticks to the game plan that Goossen gives him, I think he can pull it off. Watching Ryan through the years and seeing how much he has matured is a plus for me too. The concerning point for me with Ryan is the time off, but everyone deals with ring rust differently. In every fight, a game plan is so important, but in this one it is key. Ryan was also knocked down before and handled it well. Can he do the same if Davis has him down? I think distance is going to be the key in this fight. I’m also the one who loves to go with the underdog.”
BOBBY BENTON (TRAINER): DAVIS TKO
“I think it’s a good fight, only because I don’t know what’s going to happen. Tank wins, but Ryan has a good chance. I think Ryan is better than everyone thinks. I go with Tank by late stoppage.”
ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): GARCIA PTS
“So looking forward to this and so tough to call. Initial thought was Garcia’s height, reach and particularly speed would be the key, but Gervonta’s pedigree, skill and seasoning are significant. It may be one of those fights where Garcia dominates the pattern, then walks onto a shot. Or maybe he sees it out to the end with little drama. Maybe Davis only needs one shot, Wilder style. Davis has the best record and is the ‘one to beat,’ but Garcia could be anything. I’m pushed to say Garcia by decision.”
RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): DAVIS
“Very interesting fight. Two talented fighters with fan-friendly styles and power. This is a fight as a boxing guy you don’t want either one to lose; they’re both good for boxing. They bring crowds to arenas. The fight will start slow. They’re both calculating fighters and counterpunchers. They’re going to try and time each other, figure each other out. This fight is explosive. ‘My’ perfect ending would be a draw, but that’s not happening. This one shall end in a knockout. What makes this such a hard fight to predict? They’re both used to fighting one another’s size. So, no advantage for anyone there. I flipped a coin… and the coin picked Davis. We’re going to get a great fight when they let those hands go. I do really want both to win. They’re both good for boxing.”
WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/ TRAINER): GARCIA UD
“Garcia will have the height and weight advantage on fight night, but Davis has more power. Garcia’s best weapons would be to hold the center of the ring and use his jabs and movement to confuse his opponent. Davis does have the big punch in his right hooks and overhand lefts, but I think he may try too much for the KO instead of winning rounds. I can see Garcia taking advantage of that, and he’ll pick Davis off with long left jabs and straight left and rights to build up enough points and pull out a unanimous decision on the scorecards.”
RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): DAVIS KO 9
“Biggest fight in boxing. Tank fills up arenas. Ryan Garcia’s a social media star and a good boxer. Both cross over to mainstream. I see slow rounds at the beginning, both being cautious trying to figure each other out. Good exchanges in the middle rounds by both, but the difference is Tank’s boxing IQ. Always setting traps and on the lookout for openings. Tank lands the home run in later rounds. Tank KO Round 9.”
JOHN SCULLY (TRAINER): DAVIS PTS
“I think it’s a very interesting fight, because while I feel Gervonta is the favorite, I think Ryan brings many intangibles that bring him a great chance to win. I think he is going to test Gervonta very intensely for as long as it lasts. I feel it could end up being a somewhat ugly-looking fight with a lot of emotions involved. If I had to bet, I would say that Tank comes through with a tough decision victory. But if Ryan wins the fight, I won’t be surprised at all.”
BOB SANTOS (MANAGER/TRAINER): DAVIS
“I think it’s going to be a tremendous fight. Great for boxing. Both men’s stock is going to rise for taking these types of fights. I think Ryan will be at his most dangerous in the first six rounds. Tank will figure him out and take control of the fight in the latter half of the fight. I have Tank winning in the end. He has much more experience in big moments.”
FINAL TALLY: DAVIS 14-6
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].