Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Leo Santa Cruz will meet at 130 pounds for belts in the 130- and 135-pound weight classes in Saturday night’s Showtime PPV (9 pm ET), with both fighters taking steps back up in competition, and a lot of reasons to see this fight going one way or the other.
Who gets his hand raised at the end of the night at the Alamodome? Our staffers pick the winner.
The smart money’s on Tank Davis. He’s naturally bigger, stronger, the much bigger puncher. Santa Cruz doesn’t have the pop at this weight; he didn’t have it at 126, he doesn’t have it at 130. But here’s what keeps tripping me up: I’m not convinced Davis is as good as he’s supposed to be, and I don’t think it’s any big coincidence that the matchmaking for him in the last three-and-a-half years has been extremely cautious.
On paper, this can be seen as cautious, too, and a smart spotlight-grab. Santa Cruz is a really good fighter who’s had a hell of a career, but he’s getting a little older and fighting heavier than he should, while also maintaining some name value for the wider audience. Some don’t think Tank will make 130, but I do; not because of his personal great dedication to making weight, but because his team will surely have had people really on it through camp. Missing weight against Francisco Fonseca on an undercard is one thing, missing weight for a PPV main event is not only a bad look, but it’s a huge business risk, as Santa Cruz could flat-out just call the fight off if he doesn’t want to take money in exchange for an even bigger disadvantage.
But back to the skills. Yeah, Davis seems like he could overpower Leo, but will he? I agree with the general thought that Santa Cruz won’t be much of a puncher at this weight, but I know he’ll work. I think Davis might wind up relying too much on difference-making power, let rounds get away from him without landing the type of game-changing shots he needs, and find himself in a very tight fight. I’ve seen Leo tested by good fighters, taken into the deep waters where he gutted it out. Tank? Not so much. I’m going with the upset and a renewed appreciation for Leo Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz MD-12
Look, it’s no secret that Mayweather Promotions have been salivating at the mouth for this fight for some time now and it’s pretty clear why. If you believe the old boxing adage ‘styles make fights,’ well this should prove to be a stylistic nightmare for Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz is known for his volume punching but his power is lacking at this weight class and without the fear of any one shot being able to level Gervonta, I think Davis is content to stand in and look for slip-and-counter opportunities, strafing Santa Cruz with big power shots. Slickness, quickness, and power is Gervonta’s game, and I have a hard time seeing him doing much other than lighting up Santa Cruz with his size and athletic superiority. I think Davis bludgeons Santa Cruz en route to a stoppage win. Davis TKO-8
How to Watch Davis vs Santa Cruz
Date: Saturday, Oct. 31 | Start Time: 9:00 pm ET
Location: Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
TV: Showtime PPV | Stream: Showtime.com
Live Online Coverage: BadLeftHook.com
Patrick L. Stumberg
Between the weight issues, out-of-ring idiocy, and inability to dominate a one-legged Yuriorkis Gamboa, Davis is absolutely awash in red flags. Can’t say I don’t favor him here, though, and that largely boils down to size. Successful pressure fighting doesn’t always require huge power, but there needs to be enough pop to keep your opponent honest if you’re going to be sitting in the pocket with them all night; considering Santa Cruz’s ability to really hurt people peaked somewhere between 118 and 122 pounds, I don’t trust his volume to stand up to Davis’ one-punch finishing ability.
This is, of course, assuming Davis doesn’t come in at 132 pounds and fight like he did against Fonseca. If that happens, Santa Cruz will just play the intro to Hot for Teacher on “Tank’s” midsection. If both come in at or near their best, though, Davis is just too big and too powerful for “El Terremoto’s” avalanche of punches to budge. Davis TKO-5
I don’t see this as a one-sided fight at all. Despite LSC coming towards the back end of his career, and moving up in weight, his height and range will give him significant advantages against Tank on Saturday night. You never really know what you’re going to get from Davis, and despite his rapid hand speed and concussive power, he may have a few issues cutting the ring off against a guy with the savviness and experience of Santa Cruz. That being said, Tank is bursting at the weight – assuming he makes 130 – and will be the bigger, stronger man by some stretch come the first bell. Tank should be able to walk through a lot of what Santa Cruz offers off the back foot, taking risks in bringing the heat, and that power is eventually going to get through. I think Davis stops him late with the scorecards fairly tight. Davis KO-10