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Tale of the Tape: Davis vs Gamboa and Pascal vs Jack

A final look at tonight’s two big matchups on Showtime.

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Tonight at 9:00 pm ET on Showtime, Gervonta Davis and Yuriorkis Gamboa headline a three-fight bill from Atlanta, fighting for a vacant secondary lightweight title in the main event.

We’ll also see Jean Pascal face Badou Jack for another secondary belt, this one at light heavyweight, in the co-feature.

Here’s a final look at these matchups.

The main event:

The big numbers are right at the top: 25 and 38. Davis is young, in his prime, and has been dominant thus far as a pro. He’s avoided — or been steered around — significant, serious challenges since winning his first world title at 130 in 2017 from Jose Pedraza, but he’s also done what he was supposed to do against everyone. He’s yet to have an off-night.

Gamboa, meanwhile, is getting old, he’s never been particularly good at 135 pounds, and it’s been a long time since he won a fight near this level.

Height- and reach-wise, they’re about the same. Gamboa’s got short arms that he’s been able to make up for, especially when younger at featherweight, with explosive speed that results in good power, but he’s slowed down at least a little, as is natural.

Davis did have some trouble making weight on Friday, which could give Gamboa an opening. Gamboa’s best chance here has always been to catch Davis early, and if Gervonta is feeling that late push to drop the final bit of weight, that could factor in. It’s not likely, but it’s the best hope Yuriorkis has.

Two aging guys, both still fighting pretty well all in all, very different styles, could be a decent matchup or could honestly wind up ugly as boiled sin.

Pascal probably shouldn’t be here. In his last three title bouts, he’s been conclusively beaten. The Haitian-Canadian was stopped by Sergey Kovalev in both 2015 and 2016, and they were both real beatings. And in 2018, Dmitry Bivol outclassed him over 12 in an HBO fight that basically nobody watched, as the matchup wasn’t interesting on paper and HBO had thrown in the towel as far as promoting their final cards.

But then in August, Pascal dropped Marcus Browne three times, won no other rounds in the bout, and took a technical decision upset win in eight rounds. Browne was better than Pascal other than the knockdowns, but the knockdowns were Browne’s fault, so that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Maybe if it had gone on, Browne would’ve nicked a win despite the errors that resulted in him winding up on the canvas. Maybe he would’ve finally walked into one that put him away, too. It’s an odd win, a little fluky, but it was a legitimate win.

So Pascal is here. Jack lost to Browne by wide and clear decision in January in a fight where the Swedish battler lost a tremendous amount of blood. That, too, was an odd fight, because the blood definitely affected Jack down the stretch, but he was losing before then, too. He’s saying he feels better going into this fight than he did that one, but like Pascal, he’s getting old. We’ve probably seen the best of either of these guys, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still solid fighters, and they’re both contenders.

Jack has a little height and a one-inch reach advantage on Pascal, but the height thing is pretty normal for Jean, and there’s really nothing either of these two guys hasn’t seen in the ring at this point. Pascal’s awkward styled sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Jack is a more classic boxer, but he’s not a mistake-free guy, and Pascal takes advantages of mistakes still.

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