BOXING WELCOMES BACK CROWD WITH DAVIS-SANTA CRUZ PPV
WBA (regular) lightweight champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis (22-0, 22 KO) will challenge WBA (super) super featherweight champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KO) on Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, in the first American combat sports event with a crowd present since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Although the bout is taking place at 130 pounds for Santa Cruz’s title, Davis’ lightweight title will also be on the line.
Most of the pressure falls on Davis going into his Showtime Pay-Per-View debut, as he is the favorite to win and to possibly become a “pound-for-pound” talent in the near future. He’s also been notorious for struggling to make weight at both 130 and 135 pounds, so fans will most likely be paying extra attention to the weigh-in on Friday.
In fact, Davis failed to make weight initially for his most recent fight against Yuriorkis Gamboa last December, but ended up making the 135-pound limit upon retrying. Davis stopped Gamboa in the 12th round to win the vacant WBA (regular) title he holds currently.
In addition to maintaining his unbeaten professional record, Davis is also looking to earn his 15th consecutive stoppage win on Halloween night. The two-division champion is known for his combination of incredible hand speed and power, as well as his defense and boxing IQ.
The more experienced Santa Cruz, will be defending the title he won in his most recent assignment against Miguel Flores back in November of last year. Like Davis, Santa Cruz has also won world titles in two different weight classes. If victorious on Saturday, he would become a three-division world champion, since Davis’ lightweight title is on the line as well.
Santa Cruz has embarked on a six-fight win streak since losing a close decision to Carl Frampton in July of 2016. He also possesses a more credible boxing record than Davis, with wins over Frampton (Santa Cruz won a decision in the rematch), Abner Mares (twice), Kiko Martinez, Cristian Mijares, etc.
Fans most likely know Santa Cruz for his relentless volume punching and the pressure he puts on his opponents, so his style should match well with that of Davis for a fan-friendly fight.
In the co-main event, WBA (regular) super lightweight champion Mario Barrios (25-0, 16 KO) will defend his title for the first time against contender Ryan “Cowboy” Karl (18-2, 12 KO).
Barrios won a vacant WBA belt when he squeaked past Batyr Akhmedov last September, winning a close unanimous decision. Saturday night will be his first fight since then.
The unbeaten titleholder has also won four of his last five fights by stoppage.
Barrios’ opponent, Karl, has a reputation for putting on exciting fights, as the Cowboy tends to push the action from bell-to-bell. And while he might get caught up in exchanges from time to time, he does possess good boxing ability and hand speed. He also has a Hall of Fame trainer in Ronnie Shields cornering him, who he's been with for six years.
Karl, who spoke with ESBR just days ahead of the first title opportunity of his career, is riding a three-fight win streak since his last defeat in April of 2018.
Proceeding the co-main will be former WBA super lightweight champion Regis Prograis (24-1, 20 KO), who is set to take on Juan Heraldez (16-0-1) in his first fight since losing the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) final to Josh Taylor back in October 2019.
Prograis is mostly known for his work in the WBSS tournament, where he outpointed Terry Flanagan in the quarter-final and picked up a world title after stopping Kiryl Relikh in the semi-final. Like Gervonta Davis in the main event, Prograis will also be under plenty of pressure, as fans will be looking to see if he can maintain his status as one of the top talents at 140 pounds.
Heraldez is coming off of a draw from May 2019 against the most notable fighter he’s faced to date, Argenis Mendez. Outside of Mendez, Heraldez’s record looks pretty bleak despite the unbeaten record.
The pay-per-view opener will feature Diego Magdeleno (32-3, 13 K) in an IBF lightweight eliminator against relatively unknown Isaac Cruz (19-1-1, 14 KO).
Unfortunately for Magdaleno, he has a history of coming up short in his biggest fights. He’s lost title fights to Roman “Rocky” Martinez and Terry Flanagan, both by stoppage. He was also brutally knocked out by Teofimo Lopez last year as well. Since then, Magdaleno has picked up a bounce back decision win against Austin Dulay in February.