Super featherweight world champion Davis is one of the hardest hitters in boxing, but the former two-division titleholder Ruiz is out to prove his artillery is just as formidable when they meet tomorrow night on Showtime.
Hugo Ruiz is one of those fighters that defies logic. The 32-year-old Mexican somehow can spill 130 pounds into a 5-foot, 9-and-a-half-inch frame.
Gervonta Davis is also a fighter that defies a certain modicum of logic too. The rising 24-year-old southpaw from Baltimore, Maryland, can torque the punching power of a fighter twice his size into a 5-foot, 5-and-a-half-inch sculpted chassis that very few are able to withstand.
It’s why Davis is the reigning WBA super featherweight champion—and why Ruiz, a late replacement for Abner Mares, poses a unique threat to ruin Davis’ first title defense tomorrow night in the main event of a PBC on Showtime card (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) from the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) was scheduled to fight Mares, who was forced to pull out after suffering a detached retina last week while training. In stepped Ruiz, a lanky, former WBA bantamweight and WBC super bantamweight titlist who can’t help but put on exciting fights.
Ruiz (39-4, 33 KOs) will enter the ring only three weeks removed from a 10-round unanimous decision over Alberto Guevara on the January 19th Manny Pacquiao-Adrien Broner undercard.
That bout occurred at featherweight. This will be Ruiz’s first foray into the 130-pound class. He possesses one-punch power, though it’s one-punch power as a bantamweight and super bantamweight. His one and only fight as a featherweight came against Guevara, who Ruiz dominated from start to finish.
But Guevara is not in the same stratosphere as “Tank” Davis.
If there is one thing—and possibly one thing, only—that Ruiz has over Davis, it’s his height and 70.5-inch reach (Davis has a 67.5-inch reach).
Yet Ruiz, despite often carrying a height advantage, seldom uses his range. He’s more comfortable fighting in close quarters than he is utilizing his physical dimensions to control the action. In Davis, Ruiz will be facing his second southpaw in his last four fights, a hard-hitting one at that.
To be successful, Ruiz will likely need to stay outside and keep Davis off him. But will he do that?
“No, my style will definitely not change,” Ruiz conceded. “That’s been my style. I didn’t think this fight would come so soon but I definitely was looking at being champion at 130. This is a great opportunity that’s been given to me to fight this upcoming week.
“I will look toward the knockout against Gervonta Davis. If you’ve seen my 39 wins, 33 have come via the knockout. So, I’m going to maintain my style.”
Ruiz says he knows Davis possesses power. He knows he’s an accurate counterpuncher. And he’s aware he’s treading into a new weight zone.
Yet when asked if he’s concerned, he said, “No, not really. I feel very comfortable at this weight. If I was 126, if I was planning for 126 this Saturday coming up, the 9th of February, I wouldn't have made it because I'm already going to make 130. That's how strong I feel at this weight so that does not pose a problem for me against Gervonta Davis.”
As for Davis, he’s power personified.
The last—and only—time anyone went the distance with him was German Meraz, five years ago in a six-rounder in Davis’ ninth fight.
In Ruiz, Davis is fully aware of his length and his power. In fact, Davis believes Ruiz presents possibly more threats than Mares.
“I believe that (Ruiz) is stronger, because look at his knockout ratio,” Davis said. “I believe that Hugo, he’s more aggressive than Abner. I think he has more pop on his punches. I just watched a little clip of him. I haven't studied him like that. I just watched a little a clip once I knew who I was fighting just to be aware of what I have in front of me.”
For Davis to be successful, he’ll need to wade into Ruiz’s punching radius, which may be an easy course of action, since Ruiz is not afraid to exchange. His battles with Julio Ceja, both brutal wars, one in which Ceja stopped Ruiz in five, and the other in which Ruiz won by first-round TKO; and southpaw Hozumi Hasegawa, who stopped Ruiz in the ninth back in 2016, bear that out.
The glaring difference is that Ceja and Hasegawa, though highly skilled, aren’t Gervonta “Tank” Davis.
Can Ruiz, who can take a punch and is susceptible to the straight left, withstand Davis’ power? It could be a punishing lesson for the Mexican veteran when he finds out.
For a closer look at Davis vs Ruiz, check out our fight page.