The Chatter

Boxing Champ Gervonta Davis Eyes Hometown Fight in July

Upton Boxing Center stablemate Lorenzo Simpson to fight on undercard.

Corey McLaughlin | April 12, 2019, 11:14 am

Gervonta Davis in 2017. -AP Photo/Kathy Willens
The Chatter

Boxing Champ Gervonta Davis Eyes Hometown Fight in July

Upton Boxing Center stablemate Lorenzo Simpson to fight on undercard.

Corey McLaughlin | April 12, 2019, 11:14 am

Gervonta Davis in 2017. -AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Let’s just let him say it:

The contents of the tweet refer to 130-pound world boxing champion Gervonta Davis’ next fight, which is being planned for July in Baltimore, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe told reporters in Las Vegas last Saturday night.

“I’m very, very excited for him to bring a big fight home,” Ellerbe said of the 24-year-old who got his boxing start at the city-funded Upton Boxing Center in West Baltimore and is now 21-0 with 20 knockouts as a professional. “We’re working on it now and it’s going to be a great event.”

The details—like opponent, venue, and date—are not yet official, but, a leading news website of the sport, said Davis is expected to fight Saturday, July 27 at Royal Farms Arena in a bout that Showtime will broadcast.

A fight with Ukranian champion Vasyl Lomachenko, who competes one division above Davis as a lightweight and is arguably the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, is one that many boxing observers want to see, but the 15,000-seat “chicken box” doesn’t seem to be the place for what would be a high-profile, Vegas casino-headlining bout. Former champion Yuriorkis Gamboa and Ricardo Nunez were also named as potential opponents and seem more likely.

No matter who Davis fights, an event in Baltimore would mark an exciting homecoming and one of the area’s biggest sporting events of the year. The 5-foot-6 sparkplug hasn’t competed in a sanctioned bout here since he won the International Boxing Federation world super featherweight title in January 2017, and he hasn’t competed at all in Baltimore since his fourth pro fight six years ago.

That means this fight is likely to draw many local fans, who can also expect to see other area boxers on the undercard, including Davis’ Upton Boxing Center stablemate Lorenzo Simpson, a source tells Baltimore, another rising star who turned pro near the end of 2018.

Davis’ celebrity status has risen recently since he became a world champion two years ago with a win over Jose Pedraza at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He has fought multiple times on television, including on the undercard of his mentor Floyd Mayweather’s multi-million dollar pay-per-view draw against mixed-martial-arts star Conor McGregor in August 2017. Davis also now has an eight-month-old daughter.

But he’s had setbacks, too. Davis failed to make weight before that undercard fight and lost his IBF world title, and has had a few run-ins with the law. He faced an assault charge from a childhood friend in 2017 that was later dropped, and he will appear in Virginia’s Fairfax County District Court on May 6 to face a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with an alleged altercation on February 17 at a Virginia mall. He addressed the issue here, saying “I’m eager to put this matter behind me and continue my career.”

In Davis’ last fight, he defended his World Boxing Association super featherweight championship with a first-round knockout of Mexico’s Hugo Ruiz on February 9 in Carson, California. It was a quick work night that’s been typical of the lefty power-puncher’s professional bouts.

After that match, Davis spoke about his desire to fight in front of his hometown fans sometime this year. It appears that time is this summer.

“It’s long overdue . . . I’m excited,” Davis said then. “We actually have a lot of great talent in Baltimore, so I would like for all my young brothers that’s coming up behind me to fight on my card, show that Baltimore, we have a lot of talent. I’m excited to fight in front of my people, excited to show that there’s not only the Ravens and the Orioles, that I’m also big like that.”

Simpson, 19, the nephew of former heavyweight champion of the world, Baltimore’s Hasim Rahman, went pro in December 2018 after a highly decorated amateur career in which he went 182-3.

As a pro, Simpson is 3-0 record with two knockouts and has made a few highlights already . . .

Before July, he will fight Ahmed Elbiali (18-1, 15 knockouts) on May 11 in a four-round light heavyweight bout in Fairfax, Virginia, that will air on Fox Sports 1.

We featured Davis—nicknamed “Tank,” and Simpson, his taller, younger protégé, who goes by “Truck”—in December 2016, chronicling the pair as part of a look at the Upton Boxing Center. It’s led by Calvin Ford, the former drug dealer turned neighborhood do-gooder, and inspiration for the character Cutty from The Wire, who mentored Davis throughout his formative years.

Ford continues to coach both Davis and Simpson, and plenty of other kids at 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue, who will no doubt be among those excited for the expected summer homecoming fight headlined by Davis, the city’s top boxing star.

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