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Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia - Fight Night Preview

David Payne for Bookies.com

David Payne  | 7 mins

Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia - Fight Night Preview

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There are still fights in boxing that draw the attention of general sports fans. Full stadiums and multiple broadcast partners illustrate boxing’s enduring attraction. Certain fighters continue to transcend that boundary between the ardent follower and the casual. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Anthony Joshua are two giants of the boxing sphere who have generated extraordinary interest and built global brands that reach far beyond the limits of the sport in which they excel.

Boxing can still create superstars and while they have both fought a range of distinguished opponents, the need to box the toughest opponents isn’t as insistent as it once was, and far too many necessary fights remain stubbornly unmade.

It is a truth that makes this weekend’s clash between Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis and ‘King’ Ryan Garcia at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, especially appealing to fight fans and will, by the weekend, thanks to an intense media slog to which Garcia appears born, become a must see for general sports fans too. 

The competitiveness of the pairing offers a range of potential outcomes for those who will place a wager on the leading betting sites, difficult though those shrewd picks are to make in such well-matched fight. Garcia and Davis come together in a quest to become a star of equivalence to their 30-something peers and begin a rivalry that could, potentially at least, be remembered with the same reverence as those in whose footsteps they seek to tread.

Someone's '0' Has Got To Go

The absence of a world title belt, of which there are far too many these days, one of boxing’s many oxymoronic realities, adds rather than detracts from the fight, creating a simplicity in the narrative and ensuring focus is on the fight rather than the prospect of who the sanctioning bodies will impose on the winner. Perhaps there is a lesson there for other fighters and promoters too.

Garcia is just 24 years old, fellow American Davis is 28. Both remain unbeaten. This fight will invite nostalgics to contemplate the legends of Leonard, Hagler, Hearns and Duran, all of whom built their reputation on the beautiful brutality of their many encounters, and in Leonard and Hearns’ case, fought while still in their early twenties. Whatever the outcome this weekend, in victory, defeat or the lightly considered draw, both Davis and Garcia deserve credit for bucking the trend. Both will be better fighters for the challenge, and neither should be written off regardless of the defeat one of them is almost certain to encounter. 

The 20/1 available for a draw on betting apps shouldn’t prove sufficiently wide to seduce particularly with two powerful punchers who like to be aggressive. Their obvious variance in style may appeal to different judges in different ways, and in competitive fights that can lead to close or contrasting scorecards. It is a fight with all outcomes on the table despite both fighters stated intention to knock the other out.

Garcia and Davis do share a come-forward fighting style, but differ in stature and methodology. Davis, the shorter man at 5ft 5in, prefers to work in the ‘pocket’, a term afforded to the space within the range of both fighters, where feet and heads are closer together and punches are thrown over smaller distances. 

Garcia has longer reach and a more stand-up style from his 5ft 10in height. A significant advantage if he can deploy it successfully. He likes to throw combinations, but often from wider angles, the left hook the pick of his artillery, and he is less refined in defence. Too often he sacrifices his reach advantages to force the pace of a fight, and in this eagerness, can leave his head high and open to counters. Okay against lesser men, potentially key against someone like Davis. 

Goossen's Influence Could Be Pivotal

Trainer Joe Goossen, who trained Garcia for some of his amateur career and returned to his corner two fights ago, will have worked on that and his tendency to ‘square up’ on the attack too, a flaw which makes Garcia more likely to be knocked down if he is clipped given his elongated frame. Davis will note those technical weaknesses and intend to expose them while being wary of the taller man’s fast hands, and powerful left hook. 

As a southpaw, Davis enjoys the usual advantage of being more accustomed to fighting Orthodox opponents than Garcia can be fighting for meeting Southpaws. It does also mean, given his shorter reach, that he must be razor sharp with his jab in particular, and not stand at mid-distance where the Garcia left hook is most dangerous. A counter left hook from Garcia who has good, youthful reflex too, could be the heaviest punch Davis has had to consider in his 10-year career. 

The Davis plan will rely on timing, superb head movement and precision in his punches. His knockout of Leo Santa Cruz, he too a taller opponent, with a devastating uppercut on the inside, an instructive example of what can happen if Garcia switches off or makes a mistake. Odds of 9/5 are available on US betting apps for Garcia to hit the deck in any of the first six rounds. An interesting thread to consider. Garcia was dropped by Luke Campbell in the second round of their fight two years ago.

Davis operates in those millimetres that all the very best fighters do, reflex and technique keeping his chin away from the punches coming back, whilst landing his own decisive blows. He comes forward, forcing opponents to work, but he likes to counter. An observation Garcia himself put forward in interview with BigFightWeekend.com when discussing Davis strengths as a fighter: “His ability to sense punches as he’s coming in and then countering. I think that is his best attribute, so I have to be tricky in my attacks. Not let him predict any of my moves because his best attribute is fighting on the front foot and countering at the same time.”

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Garcia Looking At The Bigger Picture

Activity, so often a silent partner of success, favors Davis thanks to a fight earlier this year. Garcia opted not to take an interim fight having sacrificed so much to force through an agreement and secure this defining moment in his seven-year professional career. Agreeing to a catchweight of 136 pounds as well as a rehydration clause which restricts Garcia to 10 pounds of weight gain between the weigh-in and the morning of the fight, serving as a de facto second weigh in, serves as evidence of his desire to make this happen. 

He persevered through difficult negotiations, saying ‘yes’ to Davis and ceding some advantage in order to leave Davis no easy way out of the fight. It suggests a dedication thought to be missing by a one-time gym mate, a certain Canelo Alvarez.

A recent online exchange raised the prospect of a ‘winners take all bet’ too – reflective of their shared confidence, but perhaps a sign of naivety on both sides too. It strikes this observer that Garcia is viewing the bigger picture rather than the bigger purses. Trusting the money to flow from the glory. At 24, and with Davis scalped in an upset, he is 9/4 for the outright win with some of the leading sportsbooks, he would hold many of the keys to the ‘cash’ between 135 and 147 pounds. It is what drove him to accept Davis’ demands. 

Davis meanwhile faces a sentencing date on 5 May in reference to a road accident two years ago in which four people were injured and the two-weight title holder fled the scene. He may find his liberty to box severely impeded and as such there is both optimism an opportunism at work here for the man from Baltimore. And maybe a distracting force which could diminish his preparedness too? Despite his chequered past with the authorities, Davis surely knows that Garcia is the biggest and most dangerous opponent he has yet faced. 

How To Bet On This Bout

Davis’ stronger resume is the foundation for his status as favorite with USA sports betting sites, 5/11 is the best available on the outright win. With 26 knockouts in 28 wins, Davis has a reputation as a fight finisher and has done so with both hands. Mario Barrios, tall like Garcia, was hit with left and right hooks and felled by a body shot. 

Hard to imagine a pound or two more in catchweight will reduce Davis’ firepower decisively, and in Garcia, if Davis can get inside the popular Californian’s reach, there is a lot of target area to the body to aim for. Potential space for the trademark Davis left uppercut will be a threat if he is permitted the space to throw it.

There is potential for an early knockdown particularly because Garcia may struggle to control his usual attacking tendencies and leave himself open to a sharper counter. The 9/5 available with the best betting sites on the first six rounds for Garcia to touch down is attractive, and I would consider placing it alongside the 13/10 on the over 7.5, because I like youth and determination to take both men into the later rounds, but I like the more seasoned Davis to take over in the second half with his greater precision and as Garcia inevitably slows down. The 5/2 on offer on UK betting sites for Davis winning between rounds seven and 12 makes for a third leg of an interesting trio of bets in a compelling, must see match.


About the Author

David Payne for Bookies.com
David Payne
David Payne has been a boxing writer and reporter for two decades. He has featured at TheSweetScience.com and is a regular contributor to LoveSportRadio. You can find his latest news, opinions and insight at BoxingWriter.co.uk.