The birth of a newborn daughter has moved the 130-pound titlist to make some lifestyle changes ahead of his showdown versus Hugo Ruiz Saturday night on Showtime.
She’s still tiny, but his infant daughter is by far the biggest thing to happen to Gervonta Davis during his 24 years on this Earth.
Gervanni Davis is just 7½ months old, yet has already completely changed her young father’s perspective on everything that’s important to him. The unbeaten 130-pound champion is far less concerned these days with cars and jewelry, much more consumed with how much money is going into his daughter’s college fund.
Davis pursued prizefighting over college because it was his clearest path out of abject poverty, but he has Ivy League aspirations for Gervanni. Enduring his mother’s drug abuse and his father’s prison stint for selling drugs made Davis determined to provide a far better childhood for his newborn daughter than he experienced.
“It motivated me to go harder,” Davis said of his daughter’s birth. “I’m not just fighting for myself no more. I have a young baby with me. I think God gave me a girl for a reason, so I could calm down, stay focused, stay out of trouble and when I’m not fighting to have most of my energy on her.
“I don’t want her to have the life that I had and things like that. I’ll show her right from wrong. I’m excited. I’m ready to bring her up, get a big house that she can play in and grow up to be someone big one day. Maybe she can be president or a doctor or something like that.”
Someday, Gervanni may draw motivation of her own from her father’s inspiring ascent from Baltimore’s most dangerous streets to the elite level of professional boxing.
The next stop on Davis’ journey toward stardom is scheduled for Saturday night in Carson, California. The powerful southpaw was supposed to box three-division champion Abner Mares. But the 33-year-old Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) learned he suffered a career-threatening detached retina in his right eye during a sparring session two weeks ago and pulled out.
Mexican veteran Hugo Ruiz replaced Mares on 10 days’ notice. Davis-Ruiz is the main event of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) from Dignity Health Sports Park, the venue known until recently as StubHub Center.
The abrupt change of opponents disappointed Davis initially, but the WBA “super” world super featherweight champion eventually realized the taller, stronger Ruiz (39-4, 33 KOs) could present a serious challenge.
“ “It motivated me to go harder. I’m not just fighting for myself no more. ” Super Featherweight World Champion — Gervonta Davis
Regardless, Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) is confident he has prepared properly at Baltimore’s Upton Boxing Center, the gym where he has trained his whole life. There’s something about running those same streets that nearly ruined him that helps keep Davis focused on living the type of life he wants for him and Gervanni.
“It went great,” Davis said. “Just being around other fighters, it felt great. I’ve been training there since I was 7 years old, so it’s my second home. I train with my brothers and things like that. We push each other, so it felt great.”
Davis trained for his last fight at Kevin Cunningham’s gym in West Palm Beach, Florida. That camp resulted in a superb performance – a third-round stoppage of Argentina’s Jesus Cuellar (28-3, 21 KOs), which earned Davis his second 130-pound championship April 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Though things went well with Cunningham in South Florida, Davis decided he would be more comfortable back in Baltimore, where longtime trainer and father figure Calvin Ford primarily prepared him for this fight.
“Kevin was asked to do a job and he did his job,” Ford said. “I was there with him. Kevin understands the dynamics of everything and it worked. We got the win and we kept it moving. Kevin did a great job, Tank did a great job and we did a great job as a team. His team was still in place. Right then and there – you know, everybody doesn’t understand the camp life – we had to make what was the best decision for him. And we made it. And we kept on doing what we’re doing.”
More than anything, Davis wants to play an active role in Gervanni’s life, even while he is preparing for fights. The focus and motivation her presence provides is invaluable, something Ford has noticed while working alongside Davis every day. Having her near Davis helped make it easier for the developing champion to shed the enormous amount of weight he admits he gained throughout his lengthy layoff.
“Remember, he just had a newborn and he wants to spend time with his kid,” Ford said. “That’s what’s developing him. You know, there’s [multiple] components about 'Tank.' Right now, we have Gervonta, and that’s what we’re learning. We already know about 'Tank.' That’s the fighter. You know, he’s putting his life together. That’s the main thing for me. I want him to be the person that he’s gonna be, and that comes from life experience.”
For a closer look at Davis vs Ruiz, check out our fight page.