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Gervonta Davis vs Yuriorkis Gamboa preview: Davis looks to end 2019 with a lightweight title

Showtime Boxing closes out its 2019 with a tripleheader featuring Gervonta Davis, one of the most exciting talents in the sport.

Gervonta Davis v Ricardo Nunez Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

On Saturday at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, former super-featherweight title holder Gervonta Davis (22-0, 21 KOs) makes his lightweight debut against veteran Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-2, 18 KOs) for the vacant WBA belt.

Davis captured the IBF super-featherweight belt in 2017 with a TKO over José Pedraza (his best win to date) then lost on the scales prior to a win over Francisco Fonseca. He then took a version of the WBA belt from Jesus Cuellar and defended it twice against sub-par opposition before vacating it to move up, amid talk of a potential fight with pound-for-pound star Vasyl Lomachenko.

Davis is a tremendously talented and athletically gifted fighter but weight issues (at the time of writing, he missed his first attempt to make the lightweight limit, but made the second try), some uninspired performances and legal issues for assault outside of the ring have already called into question whether or not the “Tank” will live up to his full potential.

This is unlikely to be answered this weekend. 38-year-old Yuriorkis Gamboa, something of a wasted talent himself, is the 2004 Olympic champion and was a three-weight titlist in the pros, but he looked terrible two years ago against the then 23-12 Robinson Castellanos, going down twice before retiring in his corner. Outside of a quick knockout over the similarly faded Roman Martinez, he hasn’t looked much more inspiring since then and there’s not much reason to believe he stands a chance unless Davis shows up woefully unprepared.

While the result isn’t really in question (Davis is a -2250 favorite), skillwise Gamboa is still among the best fighters, he might give Davis a bit of trouble early before a likely stoppage loss.

The co-main event, a WBA light-heavyweight title fight between Jean Pascal (34-6-1, 20 KOs) and Badou Jack (22-2-3, 13 KOs) should be a much more competitive scrap. Pascal was widely considered to be over the hill after losses to Sergey Kovalev, Eleider Alvarez and Dmitry Bivol, but surprised the boxing world with a big upset over Marcus Browne to win the WBA belt and stay relevant a bit longer in the title picture. Jack held the WBA title a few years ago after he retired Nathan Cleverly, but vacated it to pursue a fight with then-lineal champion Adonis Stevenson, with whom he went to a draw. Jack most recently lost a wide decision to Marcus Browne. in which he sustained one of the nastiest cuts of the year.

Pascal’s win over Browne was by technical decision after knocking him down twice, which was notable because he was not otherwise consistently winning rounds. An accidental headbutt forced the fight to be stopped early and go to the scorecards. I don’t see Pascal’s low-volume approach in recent fight working against Jack and I’ll take the Swede’s to work more consistently and finish strong against the 37 year old Pascal to take a decision win.

In the opening bout of the card former IBF super-middleweight champion Jose Uzcategui (29-3, 24 KOs) continues his road to climb back into the title picture following his loss to Caleb Plant. He’ll face Lionell Thompson (21-5, 12 KOs) who shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for a fighter the caliber of Uzcategui.

Main Card – Showtime – 9:00pm ET / 6:00pm PT

Gervonta Davis vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa

Jean Pascal vs. Badou Jack

Jose Uzcategui vs. Lionell Thompson

Preliminary Card – YouTube / Facebook – 6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT

Malik Hawkins vs. Darwin Price

Angelo Leo vs. Cesar Juarez

Viddal Riley vs. Muhammad Abdullah