Gervonta Davis called Rolando Romero “a dumba** fighter” during Thursday’s pre-fight press conference at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Romero countered by mocking Davis’ “big head for me to hit,” saying “He’s scared of me” and vowing “to hit him with one punch, and we’re going to be done.”
Davis (26-0, 24 KOs) enters his fourth straight pay-per-view event on Saturday against Romero (14-0, 12 KOs) with a 96-percent knockout ratio that ranks second among world champions to that of IBF/WBC 175-pound titleholder Artur Beterbiev (17–0, 17 KOs).
Considered the best fighter at 135 pounds by some, Davis vows a knockout in this weekend’s WBA title defense in a clash of unbeatens.
Davis is boxing’s biggest draw this side of three-belt welterweight champion Errol Spence and four-division champion Canelo Alvarez and has dominated superior opponents to those of his lightweight counterparts entering the Premier Boxing Champions event on Showtime Pay Per View (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“It’s time for me to show that I’m the man in this sport. I believe that I’m the face of the lightweight division. I just want to live up to that,” Davis said. “I just want to show people that there are different levels when it comes to boxing. My goal is to go out there and be better than I was yesterday.”
A five-time titleholder, Davis is 2-0 at Barclays, which is hosting its first post-pandemic fight since heavyweight Robert Helenius’ fourth-round knockout of Adam Kownacki in March 2020.
Davis, 27, announced on The Last Stand with Brian Custer that Romero may represent his last fight under contract with Mayweather Promotions of retired champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Davis qualified that statement somewhat during interviews at Wednesday’s open workout at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn.
“I feel like I have the best team in boxing with Mayweather Promotions and Al Haymon and my personal team, and I really mean that,” Davis said. “Whatever decision we make after this, I’m all for it because I feel that we always come up with the best plan as a team, and we’ve always executed our game plan.”
Davis-Romero precedes a June 5 unification clash of unbeatens in Melbourne, Australia, between 135-pound titleholders George Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs) and Devin Haney (27-0, 15 KOs). Kambosos holds the IBF/WBO and WBA super titles, Haney the WBC version, and Davis the WBA regular.
Haney questioned Davis’ desire to “make the big fights happen,” saying “what’s the point in leaving your current situation. You might as well stay there and be loyal to Floyd.”
It was at Barclays in January 2017 that Davis’ one-knockdown, seventh-round stoppage dethroned previously unbeaten switch-hitter Jose Pedraza as IBF champion. “Tank” Davis did the same to left-handed WBA 130-pound titleholder Jesus Cuellar in April 2018 to win via three-knockdown, third-round TKO.
“I’m grateful to be back at Barclays Center. I won my first title there. Winning my first title at Barclays was amazing. Then I lost my title by not making weight, came back to Barclays and won the belt again,” Davis said.
“A lot of people don’t know that. Coming back to Barclays Center and New York is amazing. I love the city. I’m always here. I feel as if New York is my second home. I’m happy to be back.”
Davis’ victory over Pedraza made him the sport’s youngest reigning champion at the time at the age of 22 as well as Baltimore City’s first fighter with a world title since heavyweight Hasim Rahman upset Lennox Lewis in April 2001.
Davis was considered by some to be an underdog against Pedraza, who entered his third defense at (22-0, 15 KOs) and was thought to have too much savvy and experience for Davis to win.
After overpowering Pedraza throughout the fight, Davis flattened him with a head-swiveling right hook to the jaw that followed for his eighth straight stoppage win.
“I was on a mission when I fought Jose Pedraza for the title,” Davis said. “I didn’t do any trash talking. I went in there and proved that I’m a top guy.”
Davis then traveled to London for his first defense in May 2017, flooring previously unbeaten southpaw Liam Walsh (21-0, 14 KOs) for a third-round TKO.
“When Gervonta beat Pedraza, Pedraza was an undefeated world-class champion. Then Gervonta went overseas for his first defense and obliterated an undefeated fighter in Liam Walsh,” said career-long trainer Calvin Ford of Davis.
“You have a kid in Gervonta who came from the streets of the city of Baltimore, which is hardcore. The writers just don’t wanna give Gervonta his props because he’s an inner-city kid who came from nothing, really loves what he’s doing, and he’s giving other kids hope.”
But after beating Walsh, an overweight Davis lost his crown on the scales before stopping previously undefeated Francisco Fonseca (August 2017) in eight rounds and then defeating Cuellar.
Davis last fought in December, winning by unanimous decision over Isaac Cruz.
Davis has knocked out seven current or former champions: Pedraza, Cuellar, Cristobal Cruz (October 2015), Hugo Ruiz (February 2019), Yoriorkis Gamboa (December 2019), Leo Santa Cruz (October 2020) and Mario Barrios (June 2021).
Before Isaac Cruz, Davis’ three victories comprised a 12th-round TKO of three-division champion Gamboa, a sixth-round KO of four-division champion Santa Cruz and an 11th-round TKO that dethroned previously unbeaten WBA 140-pound champion Barrios.
Gamboa was floored once each in the second, eighth and 12th, Santa Cruz was flattened and knocked out cold by a brutal left uppercut, and Barrios hit the deck twice in the eighth and once more in the 11th.
“When I hit [Romero] with one of these, it’s going to knock his whole nose off,” said Davis, “We know that ‘Rolly’ is going to come out in round one and try to knock me out like he said. I’ll be ready for that.”
But Romero vows to be the first to not only beat Davis but to knock him senseless.
“You guys are going to see ‘Tank’ get knocked out in one round Saturday night at Barclays Center. Nothing else needs to be said,” Romero said. “I’m the new face of boxing, and everyone is going to see on Saturday when I knock ‘Tank’ out. I’m going to go in there and hit him with one punch and we’re going to be done.”
Edited by Richard Pretorius and Matthew B. Hall
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