By: Hans Themistode
Gervonta Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) was supposed to be taking on the toughest test of his young career this Saturday night at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson California.
Davis was originally scheduled to defend his WBA Regular Super Featherweight title against three weight division champion Abner Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs). Unfortunately the aforementioned Mares suffered a detached retina while training for the fight and was subsequently removed from the card. Mares would go on to have surgery to repair the damaged retina with the hopes of fighting again sometime soon.
Photo Credit: Dave Mandel/Showtime Boxing
The injury to Mares is unfortunate but the show must go on. Davis won’t be given any breaks as he will now be taking on the hard hitting Hugo Ruiz (39-4, 33 KOs) who has also captured two titles in his career. Ruiz won the interim WBA Bantamweight title in 2011 when he stopped Alvaro Perez. In 2016 Ruiz would once again capture another world championship, winning the WBC title in the Super Bantamweight division when he knocked out Julio Ceja in the very first round. Davis will come into this fight as the favorite and rightfully so but Ruiz has the capabilities to create one of the biggest upsets in the early boxing calendar.
Going into his matchup with Mares, Davis had several physical advantages working in his favor. However now that he will be matched up with Ruiz he will now be at a decided disadvantage. Come fight night Ruiz will enjoy both a four inch height and three inch reach advantage over the champion. Ruiz also has the luxury of being much more active than his counterpart. 2018 was a very inactive year for the champion as he only fought one time during the first half of the calendar year. He was last seen in the ring April of 2018 against Jesus Cuellar. Easily dispatching of him in only three rounds.
Ruiz on the other hand fought twice last year picking up a dominant decision win over Dennis Contreras. He then followed that up by stopping Jesus Galicia in the second round of their contest. Ruiz has already began his 2019 boxing campaign with a decision win over veteran Alberto Guevara just last month. Although this is a short notice fight for Ruiz he wasted little time accepting the challenge as he see’s this as a major opportunity for himself. Dethroning Davis will not be an easy task however.
There is a reason why Davis is known as “Tank”. In 20 professional fights he has stopped 19 of his opponents. The champion has a knack for finishing fights early and always has the edge in terms of power over his opponents. Ruiz doesn’t have quite the same amount of knockout power as Davis but he has a ton of pop in his punches as he has knocked out 33 of his 39 opponents. The 32 year old Ruiz will also have the edge in terms of boxing experience over his 24 year old counterpart.
This isn’t the matchup fans were hoping for but we all know the famous saying. Styles make fights. The tall, rangy and explosive Ruiz has the tools to make this a long night for the champion.
Before Davis attempts to defend his title, a former world champion in Ishe Smith (29-10, 12 KOs) and one title challenger in Erickson Lubin (19-1, 14 KOs) will be looking to regain their footing in the Jr middleweight division as they lock horns in the co main event slot.
If it feels as though Ishe Smith has been around forever it is because he has. He first made his debut in the year 2000. 19 years later he is still competing at a high level and itching for another title shot. Smith has faced a who’s who of contenders and champions throughout his long career including the likes of Daniel Jacobs, Erislandy Lara, Sergio Mora and plenty of others.
In 2013 Smith outpointed former IBF Jr Middleweight champion Cornelius Bundrage to secure his first and only world title. Win, lose or draw Smith has always been a tough out. However at 40 years of age and riding a two fight losing streak he can’t afford to lose his third consecutive bout. In order for Smith to put a halt to his current slide he will have to get through the one time title challenger Erickson Lubin who is looking to continue his own comeback trail.
Lubin had a dominant start to his career as he quickly became known for his ability to cause eye catching knockouts. His quickness, sharp boxing ability and of course his knockout power resulted in him receiving the ESPN prospect of the year award in 2016. He would later parlay that achievement into a title shot with then champion Jermell Charlo. The bout was viewed as a 50/50 contest with some giving Lubin the slight edge. What proceeded to happen was unexpected to say the least. Lubin was knocked out cold in the very first round.
Since that loss Lubin has only competed in other bout, stopping veteran fighter Silverio Ortiz in the fourth round. Lubin now has the opportunity to add a major scalp to his resume by defeating the former Jr Middleweight belt holder. A loss for either man would become detrimental to their career aspirations.
Both of these fights are significant to the landscape of their respective divisions. For Gervonta Davis he is looking to once again make a statement and claim another dominant victory while Hugo Ruiz is hoping to once again call himself a champion by nights end. Both Ishe Smith and Erickson Lubin are on the brink of irrelevancy with a loss. A win however for either man could propel them back into the thick of things in the Jr Middleweight division.
Everyone is fighting is for something important and will be hungry to get the victory. This Saturday night we will all see who wants it the most.
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