Leo Santa Cruz – Boxing’s Quiet Man
By: Sean Crose
He’s now 32 years old. He’s been a professional athlete for just under 14 years. He’s held major titles in numerous weight divisions and has avenged his only professional loss. There is little doubt that Leo Santa Cruz possesses a classic success story. Now, however, as a new generation of dominant boxers emerges, Santa Cruz is being viewed as a member of the sport’s old guard. That’s an odd thing for a man still far removed from 40. Still, as this exciting and soft-spoken figure heads towards the October 24th date of his next fight, it’s his opponent, the brash, 25 year old Gervonta Davis who the media has it’s eyes on.
There’s some good reason for this, of course. Davis is lightning fast and hits with power outing thunder. He’s also the younger man by seven years and has yet to lose a fight. On top of that, Davis’ legal troubles and Twitter exploits have made him the stuff of click bait. He is arguably surfing a large sized wave headed for star status. Santa Cruz, on the other hand, is boxing’s quiet man. Wins over the likes of Carl Frampton and Abner Mares have made him respected and popular rather than loved or hated. He takes things as they come, Santa Cruz. In interviews, this extremely polite man appears almost passive. Santa Cruz is, in a sense, the popular opposite of Davis…although it has to be added here that Davis himself possesses a gracious, sportsmanlike side that gets brushed away in all the hoopla.
Perhaps more than anything else, the Davis-Santa Cruz fight is being presented – by the media and boxing public if not the promotion – as a classic passing of the torch fight. Will it be, though? He may be over thirty, but fighters today fare better as they age than in previous decades. Also worth considering is the fact Santa Cruz hasn’t taken a whole lot of damage in this 39 fight career. Lastly, there’s the matter of experience. Santa Cruz has wins over Abner Mares and Carl Frampton. That’s a talent level Davis arguably hasn’t faced yet, save for Yuriorkis Gamboa, who was already creeping towards forty when Davis bested him last December.
Should Davis prevail over Santa Cruz in this young lion versus old master bout, few will perhaps be surprised. People will inevitably ask, however, where Santa Cruz will go from there. He’ll ask it himself, no doubt. You won’t see him shooting his mouth off, though, about being robbed, or about how he’s ready to come back and take on the world. That’s just not his style. No, if he loses next month, Santa Cruz will quietly move on.
Just like he will if he wins.
Gervonta Davis Not Interested In Gary Russell Jr. But Says He’s Ready For Vasiliy Lomachenko: “I Think It’s Probably Time”
By: Hans Themistode
From hunting world titles and big names, to becoming the hunted, Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) has found himself at the top of everyone’s hit list.
The Baltimore native has heard his name muttered under the breath of fighters such as Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia, Teofimo Lopez, Gary Russell Jr. and others. But at the moment–the surly knockout artist is hard at work during training camp as he prepares for his October 24th, pay-per-view headline debut against four division world champion Leo Santa Cruz.
While Davis says his full focus is on the task at hand, matchups against most those of previously mentioned names are undoubtedly in his future. The sole exception comes from Russell Jr. Davis simply yawns whenever his name is bought into any conversation.
The skills of WBC featherweight belt holder isn’t questioned by the Baltimore native, but his lack of star power and size is.
“Gary Russell Jr. I believe is too small,” said Davis to Brian Custer on The Last Stand Podcast. “I don’t think that’s a fight that makes sense right now. If we are building a star then we want someone who can put butts in the seats. Gary Russell is still fighting in the small MGM. We need someone who can fill the big MGM and the T-Mobile Center.”
Russell Jr., admittedly enough, has fought at smaller venues such as the aforementioned MGM National Harbor which seats 3,000. In his last contest which took place at the PPL Center in Allentown Pennsylvania, Russell Jr. struggled to fill the 10,000 seat arena. Half of the venue was blocked off to compensate for the lack of a crowd.
With the typical lack of buzz generated for a contest featuring the WBC featherweight belt holder, Davis is in no rush to face him in the ring. But when it comes to pound for pound star Vasiliy Lomachenko on the other hand, Davis changes his tune.
“If we get past our few guys that we got ahead of us, then we can make it rock.”
For years whenever Davis was broached with a question on facing Lomachenko, his retort always reverted back to timing. Now though, the time is right to make the contest happen.
“I think it’s probably time. Definitely not this year. If not next year then the beginning of 2022.”
Gervonta Davis: “I’m Definitely Going To Make The Weight, I Really Didn’t Like Fighting At 135”
By: Hans Themistode
Gervonta Davis has heard his fair share of praise. From words such as knockout artist to showstopper, the Baltimore native has reason to blush over the nonstop compliments tossed in his directions. He does however, sport a sheepish look when words such as fat, lazy and uncommitted are lobbied his way as well.
The two division world champion has had his issues making weight several times over. A 2017 matchup against Francisco Fonseca saw Davis drop his 130 pound world title on the scale’s. Just last year, Davis decided it was time to move up to 135 pounds. Yet, even with five extra pounds of wiggle room, he came in a bit on the heavy side.
Now, with the biggest fight of his life taking place on October 24th, against four division world champion Leo Santa Cruz at 130 pounds, Davis is taking extra precautions.
“I actually moved my camp to Vegas,” said Davis to Brian Custer on The Last Stand Podcast. “I did a longer camp. Normally I’ll do an eight week camp but I started 12 weeks out. I just want to be prepared for Leo. I know he is going to bring a lot to the table.”
For Davis, before COVID-19 barricaded windows and padlocked the doors of boxing venues, the Baltimore native made constant appearances at fights. What was most eye-catching to fans wasn’t the Jewelry that flooded his neck and wrists. Nor was it the designer clothes. No, it was more so the beer belly that Davis flaunted while walking around the venue.
Now however, he has considerably trimmed down due to his longer than normal camp. The questions surrounding his training methods and time off activities were warranted. But Davis wants the blame pinned on his shoulders, no one else’s.
“I don’t have a discipline problem,” explained Davis. “Sometimes as boxers we enjoy ourselves too much for a long period of time. You have to stay on top of your grind. When I don’t make weight its because if I have to lose two pounds then I’ll wait til the last day. I’ll think that I’m just going to lose it easily, but it really doesn’t work like that. When you get down to those last couple of pounds it gets a little harder. It’s never because I haven’t trained the right way or because of my coaches, it’s because of me.”
For the critics of Davis though, seeing is better than believing. On too many occasions the Baltimore native has needed his handlers to grab the nearest towel as he strips off his underwear in an attempt to make weight.
With a chance to headline his first pay-per-view, along with severe, although unclear weight penalties should he come in above 130 pounds, Davis has not only doubled down on his prediction of making weight, but he’s also confident that no extra time will be required.
“I’m definitely going to make the weight, my life is depending on it. It’s going to take me one time.”
When watching Davis make his lone trek to the 135 pound division in his last ring outing, it was clear that he wasn’t the same fighter. He labored around the ring and gassed out during the midway point of his matchup against the 38 year old Yuriorkis Gamboa. Shots that would usually leave his opponents in a vegetative state, did little to affect his opponent on the night. Although he got the job in his normal destructive manner, it was ostensible that 135 isn’t in the comfort zone of Davis.
“I really didn’t like fighting at 35, I like fighting at 30. I’m way quicker and can throw a lot of punchers. I feel like 130 is a weight where I can become a big star.”
Leo Santa Cruz on Gervonta Davis Matchup: “No One Gives Me A shot, But I Am Going To Shock The World”
By: Hans Themistode
It isn’t a matter of if, but more so what round, will Gervonta Davis leave Leo Santa Cruz flat on his back, at least according to most. The two are scheduled to face off on October 24th, in a pay-per-view headliner for both the WBA lightweight and super featherweight world titles on the line.
A win has always been expected whenever Santa Cruz has stepped foot inside of the ring. But from the moment the ink dried on his contract to face Davis, the four division world champion became a heavy underdog.
The perpetual cheers that motivated him throughout his career, have now been replaced with worried faces and constant doubt of whether or not the Mexican native will be able to get it done on the night. Although he would much rather hear from his supporters, Santa Cruz is using his skeptics to fuel him and prove them wrong.
“No one gives me a shot, but I am going to shock the world,” said Santa Cruz to FightNews during a recent interview. “This is the biggest fight of my career. It is the fight I always wanted and the first pay-per-view that I headline. I am really excited. I am motivated and training hard for this fight.”
Words such as concussive, deleterious and destructive don’t quite illustrate the power that Davis has put on display during his seven year career. In short, he doesn’t get paid for overtime and enjoys clocking out early. With the exception of one early matchup, no Davis opponent has made it to the final bell.
Fighters in his division or even one weight class above won’t do the trick in terms of preparing Santa Cruz for what could be a painful night at the office. So instead, the four division world champion is seeking help from those several pounds north.
“Once we begin to spar I will need guys that fight at 140 or 147,” explained Santa Cruz. “I think Gervonta Davis is a great fighter, aggressive, and has great power. His style, he is a lefty and fast, but we are prepared. We will look out for his power, be patient and smart. I think he looks for the power shot, long as I get away from that. I have the experience. So, I think with my experience, and if I pressure him, I can break him down and frustrate him.”
Whether Santa Cruz looks to his left or to his right, the motivation to win his matchup with Davis can be found everywhere. Holding onto his WBA super featherweight title pushes him to train harder, but so does the constant murmurs from his doubters. The history books also fuels Santa Cruz as a win would make him the first Mexican born fighter to win world titles in five separate weight classes. Although the incentives are mouth watering, they are completely unnecessary. For Santa Cruz, he draws most of his inspiration from one source.
“My father gives me motivation,” explained Santa Cruz. “He contracted the virus not too long ago. He wasn’t doing well but he’s good now. I look at him and everything he has been through and it makes me work harder.”
Gervonta Davis On Leo Santa Cruz Showdown: “He’s Going To Bring The Best Out Of Me
By: Hans Themistode
At just 25 years of age, WBA lightweight titlist Gervonta Davis has a lot to be proud of. He’s held world titles in two separate weight classes, has sold out multiple arenas and on October 24th, the Baltimore native will make his pay-per-view headlining debut against Leo Santa Cruz.
Yet, even with opponent after opponent needing immediate medical attention following a matchup with him, Davis believes he hasn’t even come close to going into his full bag of tricks.
With secondary fighters littered across his resume, Davis has barely needed to break a sweat. There was never a need to bring his very best to the table in any of his 23 pro fights. But come October 24th, the two division world champion fully expects to switch into second gear.
“Leo Santa Cruz is tough,” said Davis to Mike Coppinger on The Pug and Copp Boxing Show podcast. “He’s going to bring the best out of me. He’s not someone that is going to sit there and just try to survive. He’s going to actually fight, so it should be a great match.”
Great would be one of the last words used in associated with a Gervonta Davis contest. With all but one of his career fights reaching the judges scorecards, the two division champion has made it look easy inside of the ring. Some of his success can be attributed to the work he has put in while no is looking.
During the build up of all of his matchups, Davis can be found in an empty gym wearing out each and every heavy bag in the facility without fear of something coming back in return. But while the constant repetitions have yielded results, Davis finds his solo gym sessions and fight night opponents all too familiar.
“I’m just excited to be fighting someone that’s not going to be just a punching bag. I definitely have to train hard. We know that Leo is a future hall of famer, so I know that he is going to come to fight.”
His opponents lack of interest in sitting in the pocket with him was especially evident in his last ring appearance, at least according to Davis.
Former multiple division world champion Yuriokis Gamboa met Davis at 135 pounds in December of 2019. With plenty of mileage on his 38 year old odometer, coupled with a torn achilles in the second round, the Cuban born native seemed gun shy throughout much of their contest. His defensive approach didn’t win him any rounds, but it did extend Davis to the 12th round for the first time in his career. The Baltimore native still managed to end the night in the final round, but he hears the chatter surrounding his performance. For Davis, the explanation as to why he found it so difficult to get rid of his man was simple.
“Gamboa was trying to survive,” explained Davis. “You know when somebody is just trying to survive they don’t throw as much. It was hard for me to catch him with shots, but with Leo, he’s going to come ready to fight.”
Gervonta Davis Looking to Prove He’s More Then Just Power Against Leo Santa Cruz: “I’m Not Just a Banger, I’m a Boxer Puncher”
By: Hans Themistode
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And for WBA super lightweight champion Gervonta Davis, he’s proven that his method of winning is picture perfect.
Facing Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) inside of the ring normally ends with a trip to the emergency room for his opponents. The Baltimore native and two division world champion is set to take on the toughest test of his career, at least on paper, in Leo Santa Cruz on October 24th on pay-per-view.
Unlike his previous opponents, Davis doesn’t seem interested in leaving him strapped to a stretcher following their contest. He’s already proven to have the sort of deleterious power that you simply can’t teach. So instead, he plans on introducing the world to the rest of his repertoire.
“I’m not trying to knock him out or things like that,” said Davis to Mike Coppinger of The Athletic. “I’m not definitely not going for the knockout, I’m going definitely trying to show the fans that I can box. So I am ready for this fight to show them that I can do both.”
For Davis, the book on his skillset has seemingly been rudimentary written by fans. See opponent, hit opponent and watch opponent fall down.
Although he can never get tired of the constant replays of his one punch knockouts, the term one trick pony comes to mind. Something that Davis vehemently wants to steer away from.
“I’m not just a banger, I’m a boxer puncher, that’s who I am. People who have been in the gym with me know that but the world doesn’t know that yet.”
Whether the fight ends with an ambulance escorting his opponent from the ring, or a lopsided decision victory on the judges scorecards, the win counts the same. A victory over Leo Santa Cruz will become a serious feather in the cap of Davis, regardless of the route to victory.
“It would be big. He’s coming to fight, that guy is coming to fight. Just beating him period would be an accomplishment.”
Ranking Premier Boxing Champions Top 5 Fights to Watch From Their Recent Schedule Release on SHOWTIME
By: Hans Themistode
Grotesque mismatches were becoming the norm in this new COVID-19 boxing landscape. Financial issues and the lack of a live audience gave promoters the right to place uninteresting matchups on television screens across the world.
While it was appreciated, fans were grinding their teeth as they saw predictable fight after predictable fight. Compelling and interesting matchups would have to wait until the back end of 2020 or worse, sometime in 2021.
For Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) however, they would hear none of it.
Earlier this week PBC announced their SHOWTIME schedule for the remainder of 2020, and it did not disappoint. Numerous championship matchups have now flooded boxing fans’ once desolate schedule. With so many interesting contests, we’ve decided to rank the best five from the group.
Every contest on the docket is worth watching, but here’s our choice for the best of the best of PBC’s SHOWTIME Boxing schedule.
5. Erickson Lubin vs Terrell Gausha
Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs) has been waiting to prove that he isn’t a hype job. The former ESPN prospect of the year looked to be the real deal during the early portion of his career. However, a right hand from Jermell Charlo in Lubin’s first crack at a world title in 2017, put an end to that notion. Since then, Lubin has been hard at work reshaping his image. The Florida native has picked up four straight wins with three coming via stoppage, and now finds himself in a WBC title eliminator against Terrell Gausha.
Much like Lubin, the former Olympian has done some reshaping of his own, although not as successful. After losing a one sided contest in his own bid to win a world title contest against Erislandy Lara in 2017, Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) has been both inactive, fighting only once a year, and lackluster, scoring a draw against Austin Trout in his last ring appearance.
Not only are these two fairly evenly matched, but with the next title shot up for grabs, there is plenty on the line.
4. Nonito Donaire vs Nordine Oubaali
The retirement train was thought to have long left the station with Nonito Donaire onboard. Yet, it appears that the 37 year old isn’t ready to pack up and leave just yet. After suffering losses to Jessie Magdaleno and Carl Frampton, Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) received a bit of luck in reaching the finals of the World Boxing Super Series in 2019.
Meeting him there, was pound for pound star Naoya Inoue. The easy win that was predicted for Inoue was anything but that as Donaire gave him the toughest fight of his life. He may have come out on the losing end, but his performance has earned him a crack at WBC belt holder Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs).
For most of his six year career, Oubaali has made it look easy. But while Donaire will walk into this one as an underdog, he has already proven that he has plenty left in the tank.
3. Jermell Charlo vs Jeison Rosario
Of all the matchups on this list, WBC titlist Jermell Charlo and his unification matchup against WBA and IBF champion Jeison Rosario, was the most surprising.
Rosario came out of absolutely nowhere last year when he ripped away the titles from Julian Williams. Instead of sitting back on his laurels and milking his belts for easy paydays, Rosario has decided to attempt to add even more to his hardware collection.
Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) has gotten over his Tony Harrison saga and now finds himself fighting to become a unified champion. The betting public is already backing Charlo heavily, but they did the same when Rosario took on Williams, so he has no problem with the little amount of faith shown in him.
2. Gervonta Davis vs Leo Santa Cruz
For as explosive and dangerous as Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) has looked during his career, fans were beginning to roll their eyes whenever a new unknown fighter stood across the ring from him. A highlight reel knockout is always waiting to happen, but resistance seldom followed.
On October 24th, however, Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) will be looking to give Davis all he can handle when they face off. The four division world champion has grown tired of constant murmurs that he has eschewed the competition.
The storyline behind this one is simple. Davis has the punching power and speed on his side, while Santa Cruz is banking on his punch output and relentless pressure.
The winner of this one will have answered a ton of questions, while the loser on the other hand, will see their stock plummet.
1. Jermall Charlo vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko
Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) has gained a reputation. He’s a big puncher, aggressive personality and an unknown commodity. Even with wins over Julian Williams and Austin Trout, Charlo continues to hear the doubters. He’s asked for big name fights against the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin, but you can hear a pin drop from either of those fighters in regards to interest.
Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) may not be the opponent that he wanted, but he is without question his toughest test yet. With two razor close decision losses to Daniel Jacobs and the aforementioned Golovkin, many believe that the Ukrainian born contender should already hold a world title. Nevertheless, he’ll pick up his third chance against Charlo on September 26th.
The intrigue surrounding this one is huge. In a contest that can be essentially decided with the flip of a coin, it ranks number one on our list of the best fights to watch on the SHOWTIME Boxing schedule.
Gervonta Davis Moves Into The PPV Spotlight With Contest Against Leo Santa Cruz on October 24th
By: Hans Themistode
The knockouts were becoming hollow for two division world champion Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs).
With each head cracking stoppage win, the Baltimore native saw his stock rise. But with inferior opponent after inferior opponent selected, boxing fans began to wonder whether or not the power is as deleterious as it appears.
Testing that theory will be four division world champion and current WBA super featherweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs). The two are scheduled to meet in a pay-per-view main event at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on October 24th.
No fans will be in attendance on the night, but Davis will have the entire boxing spotlight all to himself.
For the better part of two years, CEO of Mayweather Promotions Leonard Ellerbe gave one resounding answer whenever the question of who would be boxing’s next pay-per-view star was asked.
“Gervonta Davis,” said Ellerbe in 2018 to Fightful.com. “In a couple of years, (Davis) will be the biggest star in the sport.”
Before Davis steps into the ring to prove Ellerbe correct, he will first have to step onto the scale at 130 pounds. The former super featherweight titlist, recently moved up to 135 pounds for his last ring outing against Yuriorkis Gamboa. Davis struggled to make the weight limit on his first attempt, before ultimately tipped the scale at 135. His contest against Santa Cruz is reportedly scheduled to take place 130 pounds.
In Santa Cruz, Davis not only has a credible opponent, but he also has one who shares a similar story. The 31 year old, has long been criticized for eschewing the competition. Matchups against champions Gary Russell Jr. and Shakur Stevenson, although very makeable, never materialized.
Now, both men will be looking to put an end to the “ducking” term that has been associated with their names.
The entirety of their fight card has not yet been finalized, but there could be another high level contest added before it is set in stone.
Leo Santa Cruz on Who he Wants Next “Gervonta is the Fight that I want”
By: Hans Themistode
When Leo Santa Cruz jumped up in weight to win the vacant WBA Super Featherweight world title late last year, he made a bit of history. Only a small group of fighters have ever gone on to become a four division champion. And even a smaller amount has accomplished it in the Mexican community.
Yet, even with another achievement under his belt, he doesn’t exactly receive all the respect that he probably feels he deserves.
The reason? A hole in his resume.
While he may have wins over Abner Mares and Carl Frampton, the fans want to see more. But if everything goes according to plan, he’ll be in the biggest fight of his life very soon.
“The plan is to fight [unbeaten former 130-pound champ Gervonta] Tank Davis. We’re going to fight at 130.I’m not that heavy right now. I’m like 140, 145 now and I am fighting at 130, so I’m not that heavy,” Santa Cruz revealed during a live chat on the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) Facebook page from his Southern California home on Wednesday.
It was the worst kept secret in all of boxing. The two were rumored to be on track for a contest this coming summer, but with COVID-19 placing things on hold, who knows when it could possibly take place.
A date may not be set in stone anymore, but both men want it next.
For Davis, he’s in the same boat as Santa Cruz. He’s clearly got star power written all over him but with no signature wins under his belt, there are still a few questions.
In his last contest, he moved up from 130 to 135 to take on long faded former champion Yuriorkis Gamboa. Sure he scored the knockout win, but he didn’t look impressive. While Davis would like to get comfortable at his new weight class, if he wants a big fight with Santa Cruz, it seems as though his run at 135 will have to be put on pause.
“We’re not going to go up to 135 right now. We want to fight at 130. That’s the plan.”
“135 would be a tough fight because I would be giving away a weight advantage to Tank Davis,” admits Santa Cruz. “I think 130 is our weight and I think I have a great chance there at 130. I’ve been staying in the gym, we’ve been busy. Gervonta is the fight that I want. Hopefully it gets made.”