Undefeated knockout artist Gervonta Davis returns to the ring tonight in California, as he defends the WBA super-bantamweight championship against former super-bantamweight titlist Hugo Ruiz, a late substitute for Abner Mares, who was forced to withdraw from his highly-anticipated showdown with Tank after sustaining an injury.
A win over Ruiz – who was last in action a couple of weeks ago, recording a stoppage victory over Ernesto Guevera – would see the prodigiously talented Davis extend his record to 21-0 with 20 knockouts. A violent win over Ruiz, however, would undoubtedly heighten the intrigue surrounding a potential grudge unification match with Philadelphian IBF counterpart Tevin Farmer, who defends his title – incidentally, Tank’s old belt – against undefeated dubliner Jono Carroll next month.
After effortlessly dispatching of Argentine former featherweight champion Jesus Cuellar in April under the guidance of Florida-based Kevin Cunningham, Davis has returned to trainer Calvin Ford, and will be looking to showcase more of the venomous counter punching and spiteful combinations to the head and body that have consolidated his reputation as one of the hottest talents in his division.
Meanwhile, Ruiz represents a markedly different proposition to Mares, both in terms of style and substance. Whereas Mares approach is largely one of a traditional volume puncher – with his accuracy and activity among his primary qualities – Ruiz is a tall aggressive southpaw who can punch, but it is also susceptible to getting hit and hurt.
Davis, as the seemingly stronger and more skilled fighter, will unquestionably be looking to capitalise on his opponent’s vulnerabilities. However, it ultimately remains to be seen to what degree a win over Ruiz would legitimise his title reign, after he was inexplicably elevated to ‘Super’ champion from his previous ‘Regular’ status by the WBA for no apparent reason, supplanting undefeated Puerto Rican Alberto Machado in the process.
Nevertheless, expect a routine victory for the Baltimore native – who burst onto the scene two years ago with a magnificent performance against Jose Pedraza – as he looks to fulfil his enormous potential in the years to come with some memorable victories against marquee names.
As the chief support, Orlando native Erikson ‘Hammer’ Lubin seeks to work his way back into light-middleweight title contention with an impressive victory over durable former champion Ishe Smith.
Lubin was spectacularly flattened in the first round of his sole world title challenge in October 2017 against Jermall Charlo, and will be looking to return with a vengeance with an equally spectacular victory over Smith – someone who has never been stopped but as nonetheless experienced recent setbacks, including a unanimous points loss to now-WBC champion Tony Harrison.
Indeed, a win in style would surely send out a significant statement to a division teeming with destructive punchers, and serve as a reminder that Lubin’s left hand – which he affectionately nicknames ‘Sledge’ – is still a force to be reckoned with.
Article by: Navi Singh
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @DarkMan________