Gervonta Davis has felt comfortable competing against bigger sparring partners in the gym these past couple months.
The 130-pound and 135-pound champion admits, though, that he doesn’t know exactly what to expect when, without headgear and while wearing smaller gloves, he encounters a significantly taller, heavier opponent Saturday night. Whatever happens when he meets Mario Barrios in their 12-round, 140-pound title fight at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Davis would prefer to return to the lightweight division or even the junior lightweight limit after he battles Barrios.
The strong southpaw didn’t rule out a return to junior welterweight during a recent open workout in Las Vegas, yet he seems to think he is better suited for lower weight classes.
“It’s all about like if I wanna do it,” Davis told a group of reporters. “You know, if I wanna get bigger, I can get bigger. If I wanna stay small, I can stay small. You know, but I’d rather, you know, be between that 30 and 35. You know, go up to 40 if the fight’s right, but most importantly stay at 130 to 35.”
The 5-feet-6 Davis (24-0, 23 KOs) is nearly five inches shorter than San Antonio’s Barrios (26-0, 17 KOs), who has competed at the 140-pound limit for the past four years. Most handicappers have nevertheless established Davis as a 5-1 favorite, even though he has moved up two weight classes from his previous victory to fight for Barrios’ WBA secondary super lightweight title.
The 26-year-old Davis viciously knocked out Leo Santa Cruz with a left uppercut in the sixth round of that WBA 130-pound championship match October 31 at Alamodome in San Antonio. Though Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19 KOs) had never been knocked out, Davis’ detractors criticized him for fighting an opponent perceived to be a blown-up featherweight who was past his prime in that Showtime Pay-Per-View main event.
To silence those skeptics, Davis decided to challenge a noticeably bigger, unbeaten, 26-year-old opponent who is in the heart of his physical prime.
“He’s a great opponent,” Davis said. “I mean, he’s undefeated, he’s young, you know, he’s a champion. You know, so, I think it’s a very great opponent, you know, for me and maybe he can bring out the best in me on June 26th. I’m looking forward to it.”
The Davis-Barrios bout will headline another four-fight Showtime Pay-Per-View event (9 p.m. EDT; $74.99). Junior middleweight contenders Erickson Lubin (23-1, 16 KOs), of Orlando, Florida, and Jeison Rosario (20-2-1, 14 KOs), of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, are scheduled to square off in the co-feature, a 12-round WBC elimination match.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.