ATLANTA — The time is 3:30 p.m. and I’m close to my wits end. The doors for Friday’s Gervonta Davis-Yuriorkis Gamboa weigh-in opened at 12:30 p.m. and like most seasoned boxing media, I arrived early to ensure a decent seat to shoot pictures and video. But now it’s hours later and we’re still waiting on the event’s principal player, Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who hasn’t even arrived at the building. Meanwhile, the humidity (and FUNK) continues to build as fans, media, fighter entourages and “influencers” are mashed together in the tight quarters of the Compound nightclub.
Instead of a triumphant Davis holding court upon arrival, an onery, petulant fighter replaced the smiling star we had witnessed for most of fight week. He stormed the stage with a towel covering his head. Once we saw his drawn appearance, it was clear the delay was to give Tank extra time to make weight.
It didn’t work.
There was no surprise on Davis’s face when Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced he was over the contracted 135 limit by a pound. In fact, he promptly walked off the scale before the announcement was made. Gamboa smirked at the news, likely already aware of Tank’s issues and possibly also thinking about extra money to his bank account should the weight stipulations require a last-minute contract renegotiation.
The staredown, as most know by now, ended with Davis shoving Gamboa (as if the Cuban was the reason he missed weight) and extended grandstanding from the fighters’ entourages. No explanation from Tank on why he missed weight (yet again) despite just entering a new weight class.
Atlanta’s recent boxing history has more layers than the promotional buildup has revealed. Yes, Evander Holyfield vs. Vaughn Bean in 1998 was the last men’s title match. But Laila Ali had back to back fights at the State Farm Arena in 2004 and 2005. Roy Jones competed here in 2011. Rising star Devin Haney fought here in 2017 and we’ve had a slew of well-attended local cards since then.
So big-time boxing can thrive in Atlanta with the right fighters. Davis fits that mold as an Atlanta resident and a young fighter in tune with the Hip-Hop audience. But if Davis hopes to carry the torch in a new market and be Showtime’s premier fighter in 2020, these embarrassing and unprofessional weight issues cannot continue.
DAVIS VS. GAMBOA: Gervonta is correctly a massive favorite. Tank’s weight issues aside, the Baltimore slugger will be stronger and thrives on the inside where Gamboa is vulnerable to knockdowns in exchanges. The one possible issue for Tank is adjusting to Gamboa’s equally fast hands, so I’m not seeing the quick stoppage most are. I see a gradual beating to the body and Gamboa being overwhelmed for a sixth-round TKO in a fan-friendly fight.
JEAN PASCAL VS. BADOU JACK: This is my sleeper fight. At their best, I’d usually favor Jack’s better technical skill over Pascal’s wild and haphazard offense. But Jack’s one-year layoff and Pascal’s momentum, having recently dispatched of Marcus Browne to win a version of the WBA light-heavyweight title, has me leaning towards the Canadian.
Jack tends to start slow, especially against athletic fighters like Pascal. It’ll be close and controversial, but I think Pascal reckless haymakers will catch the eyes of the judges and be enough to add more disappointment to Jack’s recent win/loss record. Pascal by majority decision.
LIONELL THOMPSON VS. JOSE UZCATEGUI: Thompson is a career light-heavyweight and at 34 decided to drop down to 168. History tells us that’s a bad idea (Roy Jones, Chris Byrd, and Chad Dawson are the poster children for this). It doesn’t help that Thompson will be a facing a bruiser like Uzcategui, who loves to brutalize with body shots and hooks.
Thompson can fight off the backfoot, but he isn’t strong enough to keep Uzcategui at bay. Uzcategui KO5
OTHER NOTES: During yesterday’s seemingly never-ending weigh-in, we were treated to appearances from former champions Evander Holyfield, Floyd Mayweather and Paul Williams. Also, brief performances from Scotty ATL and YFN Lucci.