That’s the biggest storyline entering multi-division champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis’ return on Sunday when rising star defends his WBA secondary lightweight title at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Davis (25-0, 24 KOs) will return to 135 pounds when he takes on the hard-charging Isaac Cruz (22-1-1, 15 KOs) in what’s expected to be nothing short of a shootout at close range. Cruz, a 23-year-old who is aptly nicknamed “Pitbull,” was a late substitute for Rolando “Rolly” Romero after the unbeaten slugger was pulled from the bout amid multiple allegations of sexual assault.
For as crude as Cruz’s crouching style might appear to the naked eye at times, the native of Mexico is very effective getting inside on his opponents and unloading a variety of short power shots from multiple angles.
“I’m very confident in any punch that I throw,” Cruz said at Thursday’s final press conference. “Like the Mexican saying goes, ‘whichever way it goes, it goes.’ But I’m very comfortable in my own skin and in my own style. I believe in what I can do on Sunday night.”
Cruz, who is unbeaten in his last 18 fights dating back to his lone defeat, an eight-round decision loss to journeyman Luis Miguel Montano in 2016, had no issue making a pair of guarantees as to what Sunday’s fight might look like.
“I guarantee a great fight, I guarantee excitement,” Cruz said. “It’s simple. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. [Davis] has never faced anybody that fights like me before. My hunger and my will to win is unparalleled. He’s going to feel it on Sunday night.”
Although Davis has been respectful of Cruz’s resume, he simply doesn’t believe that are on the same level as fighters. Davis has won titles at three different weight divisions over his last three fights, with all of them ending by knockout.
“He can say whatever he wants right now, but it’s different when you get hit in the face,” Davis said. “He’s saying I haven’t faced someone like him but he’s never faced anyone like me either. He can say what he wants to build up the fight. The opponent change is just a part of boxing. I had to adapt to it just like I’ll adapt to what Cruz brings on fight night.”
The upgrade didn’t necessarily change the betting odds as Davis, who is finally just starting to get pound-for-pound recognition globally, is listed as high as a –1100 favorite. But there’s no question Cruz provides a much more dangerous challenge than the extremely raw Romero.
“Gervonta is a very strong fighter. I consider him the best in the division, but he’s human and he’s not impossible to beat,” Cruz said. “My goal will be to bring him down a notch and show who I am as well.