ATLANTA – Batyr Akhmedov wasn’t surprised when he learned Gervonta Davis agreed to fight Mario Barrios for a title Akhmedov believes he should own.
Akhmedov considers jumping up two weight classes to battle Barrios smart matchmaking by Davis and his handlers. The Uzbekistan native respects Barrios, but the 140-pound contender understands that this isn’t the most difficult fight Davis could’ve pursued in the junior welterweight division.
“It’s very good matchmaking for [Davis],” Akhmedov told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “He’s not fighting Josh Taylor. He’s fighting Mario Barrios. It’s good matchmaking for him because he can make history by becoming champion in another weight class, jumping over 135 and stuff like that. It’s very good matchmaking. There’s a very good chance that he can pull it out.
“It’s good for him, but it’s also good matchmaking for Mario, even though people are gonna complain that he was too big if he’s gonna beat him. But for the boxing people, it would be a big statement for Mario if he can beat Tank Davis. So, it’s good for both of them. They’re making good [money], so may the best man win.”
The left-handed Akhmedov (8-1, 7 KOs) had to step aside to allow the Davis-Barrios bout to happen. The WBA ordered an immediate rematch between Barrios and Akhmedov soon after Barrios’ controversial, 12-round, unanimous-decision victory over him in September 2019 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The 30-year-old Akhmedov must defeat Dominican veteran Argenis Mendez (25-6-3, 12 KOs, 1 NC) on the Davis-Barrios undercard to remain in position to fight for Barrios’ WBA world super lightweight title. The 2016 Olympian declined to pick a winner in Showtime Pay-Per-View’s main event, but he didn’t discount Barrios’ chances of pulling off an upset.
“Well, in theory, he has a chance because he has size, he’s a young guy and he will be able to control the distance,” Akhmedov said. “But Gervonta is a super-talented guy, so it’s hard to predict this fight. Style-wise, it’s gonna be more suitable to Gervonta Davis because he’s a fast, small guy who likes to fight on the inside. Mario is a rangy fighter. But style-wise, I see Gervonta as a little bit of a favorite. If Mario can keep the distance, then he’s very capable. It all depends on the weight cut because Mario’s a big guy, and how he feels about himself after our fight, if he’s a hundred percent. That’s also a question.”
Handicappers have established Baltimore’s Davis as a 5-1 favorite to win their 12-round, 140-pound championship match (9 p.m. EDT; $74.99).
Win or lose, Davis intends to move back down to either the lightweight division or the junior lightweight limit for his next fight. Akhmedov hopes he changes his mind if Davis defeats San Antonio’s Barrios because Akhmedov would like a shot at the high-profile franchise fighter for Floyd Mayweather’s promotional company.
“Why not? I’m a small guy,” Akhmedov said. “I’m not as big as Mario, so that would be a very, very good fight. Tank is a great fighter, and if he wins this fight, it’s nothing personal. I want the title. But most definitely, I’m not looking past Argenis Mendez. We know he’s a tough guy who brings a lot of experience and comes to fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.