Gervonta Davis vs. Ricardo Nunez: The War in Baltimore

The undefeated World Super Featherweight Champion plans to put on a show in his hometown, but hard-hitting Ricardo Nunez could spoil the party in this 130-pound showdown Saturday night on SHOWTIME.

Two-time super featherweight world champ Gervonta “Tank” Davis (21-0, 20 KOs) is bringing world championship boxing to his hometown of Baltimore for the first time in nearly 50 years. But will heavy-handed Panamanian mandatory challenger Ricardo “El Cientifico” Nunez (21-2, 19 KOs) ruin his homecoming party?

This Saturday, July 27, at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland, Davis, the 24-year-old WBA Super World Super Featherweight Champion, will meet the challenge of 25-year-old KO artist Nunez as part of a Showtime Championship Boxing triple-header (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

On the undercard of this first-ever Showtime Boxing visit to Baltimore, Yuriorkis Gamboa meets Roman “Rocky” Martinez in a 10-round lightweight battle of former world champions and top prospect Ladarius Miller faces former world titlist Jezreel Corrales in another 10-round lightweight contest.

The undefeated Gervonta Davis is on the verge of superstardom but becoming a 130-pound boxing superstar in the United States, where bigger men get most of the attention, is a tough task.

The talent is definitely there—few fighters in the business possess his mix of speed, power, and supreme self-belief. With two-fisted KO power and near-superhuman reflexes to go along with it, “Tank” can hit opposition upstairs, downstairs, or anywhere he chooses and only seems limited by his own imagination and mindset on fight night.

The business connections are also there. As a fighter under the Mayweather Promotions banner, Davis has had showcase bouts in just about every major fight market in the US as well as a main event in London, England.

What Davis lacks is a marquee archrival or a series of bankable names as opponents to create events out of fights.

His return to Baltimore, as the first Baltimore native to defend a world title at home since Harry Jeffra in 1940, certainly qualifies as an event, though.

Davis’ story of redemption-through-boxing, going from rough beginnings as a tough-luck kid in the foster care system to world championship glory, is a classic boxing tale. With Baltimore as the backdrop to this saga, this world championship homecoming is especially poignant and electric.

"I believe it’s time for me to fight in front of my hometown and thank them for supporting me," Davis said. "I never thought a fight in Baltimore would be this big. It gives me chills, but I’m ready for it. It’s a big test. I’ve been gone for so long and coming home feels amazing."

One of Davis’ greatest weaknesses, however, has been focus and the pull of outside-the-ring distractions. This heavily-hyped return home is the kind of heady moment in the young man’s professional life that could certainly pull him off-center and leave him open to the possibility of a major, career-derailing defeat.

The questions are: Where is Davis’ head at right now and does opponent Ricardo Nunez have the ability and wherewithal to pull off the highly improbable upset?

I definitely don’t think this is going to go the full [12] rounds. Super Featherweight Contender - Ricardo Nunez

Nunez, from La Chorrera, Panama, has only fought once outside of his home country and has never faced anyone even remotely close to Davis’ level.

Not a lot is known about “El Cientifico,” but what we do know is that he has a big, powerful right hand and he wings it like he’s well-aware that it’s his deadliest weapon. He also has pop in his left, but he clearly is a right hand-heavy offensive fighter, which won’t necessarily be a liability against a southpaw like Davis. His jab, meanwhile, is just there as a range finder to facilitate the landing of the right hand and not used as an offensive weapon at all. Pretty much everything he does in the ring is a prelude to landing his right hand.

On a ten-fight winning streak, with nine of those wins coming inside the distance, Nunez fights like someone accustomed to walking through his opposition. He has a tendency to come in square, plant his feet, and fire away—confident that the man in front of him doesn’t have the firepower to answer back or the legs to get away. That could be a deadly error against Davis.

Citing the imminent birth of his daughter as inspiration, he exudes steely confidence and he knows that a win on Saturday could change his family’s life forever.

“It’s the opportunity I’ve been waiting for,” Nunez said through a translator, “I’ve done a lot of sacrifice to get to this point, and that’s why I’m here. I’m going to be fighting a great fighter. But the opportunity is now and I’ve got to take advantage of it…I definitely don’t think this is going to go the full [12] rounds…somebody’s definitely going down.”

Will his best be enough, though? Nobody knows because nobody has seen him in the ring with a true world class rival yet. It’ll definitely be a case of sink or swim against someone like Davis, whose world class chops are undeniable.

On paper, at least, the Panamanian’s big and sometimes wide right hand should be a strong weapon against a southpaw foe and his history does suggest that what he can touch, he can break. Even in defeat he’s pretty much guaranteed to go down swinging.

But, if everything falls into its proper place, this should be Davis’ night to shine among fans, friends, and adopted family. It’ll be a chance to make a big splash in a sports-hungry town and boost his status as a true star in the game.

Then, he’ll continue his march towards superstardom and towards proving that a small fighter is capable of demanding big attention.

For a closer look at Davis vs Nunez, check out our fight night page.

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