We’re now 24 hours out from the pay-per-view showdown between Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Leo Santa Cruz. Both appeared to make the junior lightweight limit comfortably (Davis 129.75, Santa Cruz 129.5) so we should see each man at their best. And with that in mind, whose likely to emerge victorious?
TANK’S PATH TO VICTORY: Davis has the faster hands, naturally bigger frame and will be heavier puncher come Saturday. But with Santa Cruz being taller and with a slight reach advantage (69 to 67.5), Davis will have to get inside and stay there. He does that by taking advantage of Cruz’s tendency to rely heavily on 1-2 combinations that can be countered with his southpaw jab or powerful left uppercut.
In his fights against Carl Frampton, Santa Cruz struggled most when Frampton stayed in his chest with short hooks. If Davis consistently cuts off the ring, Santa Cruz will be at a significant disadvantage in a forced shootout.
SANTA CRUZ’S PATH TO VICTORY: Tank’s last fight, a 12th round TKO over Yuriorkis Gamboa, was the first time he’s ever went past 8 rounds. It showed in the punch stats — he averaged only 27 punches per round against a fighter who tore his Achilles early in the fight.
Santa Cruz averages an astounding 85 punches per round. His high workrate can sway judges in close rounds if he can nuetralize Tank’s power-punching opportunities . That means keeping the fight on the outside to maximize his reach advantage. Santa Cruz’s underrated overhand right will also be highly effective here as a counter punch against Tank’s habit of lunging on power shots.
FINAL PICK: If Santa Cruz was a natural 130 pounder, I’d feel much better about his chances. Tank has been at this weight for the better part of 5-6 years. It’s hard to envision Santa Cruz being able to keep Tank, who’s faster and much more explosive, at bay for any extended period. Outside of a complete stamina meltdown, I see Tanks uppercuts and body work breaking down Santa Cruz for a stoppage by the ninth round.