By Jake Donovan
Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis’ homecoming title defense is all but guaranteed.
When exactly his team can formally announce the event depends on how soon they can wrap up negotiations for his next mandated opponent.
As previously reported on BoxingScene.com, the unbeaten two-time super featherweight titlist will headline a July 27 Showtime telecast live from Royal Farms Arena in his hometown of Baltimore, Md. What’s changed since that reveal is whom he will face on the night, thanks to the organization whose title he will defend.
Negotiations are ongoing for Davis (21-0, 20KOs) to defend his World Boxing Association “Super” 130-pound crown versus Panama’s Ricardo Nuñez, whom has emerged as the sanctioning body’s mandatory challenger.
Expectations are for the two sides to come to terms without the fight having to go to a purse bid hearing. Until they reach that point, however, fanfare for Davis’ homecoming appearance remains limited to word of mouth.
“One thing about being the champion, you can’t get around those mandatory title defenses once they’re ordered,” Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, Davis’ promoter noted to BoxingScene.com. “That will be Tank’s next fight, but we’re not worried about moving (off of the July 27 date).”
Davis won his first title in Jan. 2017, delivering a career-best performance in manhandling previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza over seven rounds, one of three straight undefeated opponents he would beat that year. The Baltimore native managed just one successful defense, a 3rd round knockout of Liam Walsh—also previously unbeaten heading into their May 2017 affair on London, England.
The title reign would end at the scales, as Davis missed weight for his eventual 8th round knockout of then-unbeaten Francisco Fonseca on the Aug. 2017 undercard for Floyd Mayweather’s final official fight, a 10th round knockout of UFC superstar and boxing debutant Conor McGregor.
Just one fight came of Davis’ 2018 campaign, but one which saw him become a two-time champion. The southpaw knockout artist obliterated former featherweight titlist Jesus Cuellar in three rounds to claim the WBA “Super” 130-pound title, which he’s since defended in a 1st round knockout of Hugo Ruiz, a late replacement for injured former three-division titlist Abner Mares this past February.
Preliminary plans called for Davis to next defend versus 2004 Olympic Gold medalist and former featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa, as previously reported. Those plans changed, however, when the WBA instead ordered him to honor his mandatory defense obligation.
Rather than ordering a fight with “Regular” titlist Andrew Cancio in a title consolidation clash, however, Davis will instead have to face a fringe contender in Nuñez (21-2, 19KOs).
The 25-year old from Panama City has won his last 10 starts, all but one coming inside the distance. What’s lacking is a single victory of note or even a valid explanation as to how he became the mandatory challenger in the first place.
Nuñez has fought in just two scheduled 10-round bouts, neither of which were a sanctioned eliminator. His lone career fight which carried WBA’s brand came in an Aug. 2016 regional title fight, in which he scored a 3rd round stoppage of Rafael Hernandez.
Nevertheless, he is whom the WBA claims Davis has to next face, with the two sides having until June 6 to settle up on terms. At that point, the fight can then be formally announced and tickets placed on sale—at least for however long they last beyond that point.
“Obviously we can’t announce a fight that’s not officially a done deal,” admits Ellerbe. “But one thing we can say for sure, once tickets go on sale, they’re gonna be all gone in two hours, tops. The youngings love Tank in B-More and can’t wait for him to come home for his next fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox