A pair of former world champions look to regain their status atop the super featherweight division tomorrow night when they meet for the WBA belt on Showtime.
Trainer Kevin Cunningham expects Gervonta Davis to record his 11th-straight knockout and regain a 130-pound title tomorrow night in his clash with fellow former champion Jesus Cuellar at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
“We’ve had seven or eight different sparring partners for “Tank,” and he’s going right through these [expletives],” Cunningham said.
“Tank has been knocking out sparring partners or beating them up so badly they wanna leave camp. I can’t predict a round, but there’s no way this fight goes the distance. I see Tank obliterating Cuellar.”
Davis (19-0, 18 KOs) meets Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs) as part of a Showtime-televised tripleheader (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) with the main event featuring four-division champion Adrien Broner facing former welterweight titleist Jessie Vargas and a co-feature between former 154-pound champion Jermall Charlo and once-beaten contender Hugo Centeno for an interim 160-pound title.
Davis and Broner are training for the first time under Cunningham at his gym in West Palm Beach, Florida, with Davis separating from career-long corner man Calvin Ford.
“Adrien invited me to come down here to West Palm Beach … to train with Kevin. I saw Kevin’s routine and I really liked it,” said Davis, a 23-year-old native of Baltimore, Maryland.
“We have a big house coach provided for us. We all live together, Adrien and I. We’re being responsible. No South Beach, no clubbing. Just training hard.”
Davis returns to Barclays Center — the site of his penultimate achievement — where, at 22 he became the youngest reigning champion with a seventh-round knockout of Jose Pedraza, in January 2017.
Davis then traveled to London for his initial defense last May, when he dropped and stopped southpaw Liam Walsh in the third round in front of Walsh’s hometown fans.
“I was one of the youngest world champions in boxing,” said Davis. “It’s not that I was not prepared for it. I was just so young and it happened so quickly. I had to adapt to it. Live up to the hype. It was hard.”
Davis lost his crown at the scales before his second defense in August, an eighth-round knockout victory over Francisco Fonseca.
“I needed a change after my last fight,” said Davis, who vanquished an unbeaten fighter for the third straight time in Fonseca. “I let others down, but think I let myself down more than anything. I learned to be a different fighter, more responsible.”
“ I believe [Cuellar] is my toughest opponent to date. I’m going to put on a great performance and become a world champion again. ” Former 130-pound World Champ Gervonta Davis
A three-time national Silver Gloves and 2012 national Golden Gloves champion who was nicknamed “Tank” by an amateur coach for his large head, Davis spent time in foster care and group homes growing up in a rough section of Baltimore where crime and violence cost many friends and family members their freedom if not their lives.
“There were a lot of distractions in Baltimore and I think they were a problem for me,” said Davis. “I needed to straighten my head and focus on the things I have to work on.”
It was Broner who a few years back brought Davis to the attention of his current promoter Floyd Mayweather, who watched his protégé stop Fonseca on the under card of his own 10th-round knockout of Conor McGregor at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the 31-year-old Cuellar will end a 16-month ring absence in search of his second world title in his 130-pound debut against Davis.
Cuellar was last in action in December 2016, when he was dropped in the 11th round and dethroned as 126-pound title-holder in a split-decision loss to three-division champion Abner Mares.
“The time I’ve had off since the Mares fight has refreshed me for this new opportunity,” said Cuellar, winner of an interim crown by unanimous decision over Claudio Marrero in August 2013.
“It took a lot out of my body to make 126 pounds for all of those years. Now I feel fresher and hungrier than ever before. I’ve been offered fights against lesser opponents in the last year but I’ve preferred to wait a little longer so that I can get a chance to fight the best.”
Cuellar’s five defenses included three straight knockouts victories, including stoppages of former world champions Juan Manuel Lopez and Vic Darchinyan.
“Gervonta Davis is one of the best in the world, so he’s the one I want to face and beat,” said Cuellar. “Davis has never faced a fighter like me and he will see me at my very best on April 21.”
German Meraz is the lone fighter to last the distance against Davis, being knocked down twice and shut out on the judges’ scorecards over six rounds in October 2014.
“I believe [Cuellar] is my toughest opponent to date,” said Davis. “We’ll see if he’s ready. I know for sure I will be. I’m going to put on a great performance and become a world champion again.”
For a closer look at Davis vs Cuellar, check out our fight page.