One of boxing’s biggest stars returns to the ring as pound-for-pound knockout king Gervonta Davis puts his WBA lightweight championship on the line against Isaac Cruz at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday night (Monday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
Gervonta Davis (0.15) v Isaac Cruz (8.50) (WBA Lightweight Championship)
The card starts at 4 AM Monday SA time
If George Kambosos’ unified lightweight championship-winning upset over Teofimo Lopez last weekend sent ripples through the boxing world, a Cruz win would turn it on its axis. Talented, heavy-handed and powered by Mexican fighting spirit, Cruz is no slouch.
The 23-year-old is a rising star with a stellar record of 22 wins, 15 knockouts and only one loss and one draw. He has a good head on his shoulders and a few slick ways of getting on the inside as the perennially smaller pugilist. That said, the enormity of the step-up in competition undefeated champion Davis represents is difficult to explain.
There are countless levels to the sweet science. The subtlest of nuances separate the good from the great and with those small margins in mind, these two are worlds apart. Add to that the fact that Cruz stepped up on less than a month’s notice after Davis’ original opponent Rolando Romero was pulled due to sexual assault allegations, and “Pitbull” is more like a lamb to the slaughter as the overwhelming odds indicate.
Davis is a pint-sized destroyer unlike any other. As the protégé of Floyd Mayweather, you know his footwork and defence are on point, but those are afterthoughts. “Tank” is all about unbridled brutality. He packs heavyweight power in a 5’5½” foot frame – the freakish kind that’s seen him win all but one of his 25 fights by knockout.
Germán Meraz is the only man who can say he went the distance with Davis, and that was in a six-round bout back in 2014. Davis’ unprecedented power has seen him pile up 16 straight knockouts and seize titles in three different weight classes. It’s a path of destruction never thought possible, especially in the lighter weight classes.
Having never tasted defeat like his mentor “Money”, the 27-year-old fights with a special kind of confidence forged in fire and paid for in blood, sweat and sacrifice. Not one to rest on the laurels of his God-given power, Davis never ceases to sharpen his skills and technique and is a student of the game.
As such, he’s both a bazooka-wielding berserker and a calculated killer with the fight IQ and championship-level experience to employ whichever approach the opponent and/or situation requires. The savage southpaw is the bigger man and will benefit from a four-and-a-half-inch reach advantage, which on top of everything else, makes Cruz’s mission akin to attempting to climb Everest without equipment.
Prediction and Suggested Bets
Prediction: For all of Cruz’s gumption and grit, there’s only one way this one ends and that’s a 17th knockout win in a row for the vastly superior and frankly terrifying “Tank.”
Best Bet: Davis’ ability to set traps, unrivalled killer instinct (96% knockout ratio) and otherworldly power will see him close the show sooner rather than later. Davis to win in rounds 1-6 at 2.30.
Alternative Bet: Under 6.5 rounds at 1.86.