The UFC may be taking the weekend off, but there is a major boxing pay-per-view happening at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on Saturday, May 28th.
WBA “regular” lightweight champion Gervonta Davis (26-0, 24 KOs) defends his secondary title against Rolando Romero (14-0, 12 KOs), who was supposed to face him last December before he was pulled due to sexual assault allegations. No criminal charges were filed after an investigation, so Romero is cleared to compete again.
These are two big punchers and they’ve had a war of words with each other for months. Will the actual fight live up to the pre-fight histrionics? Here’s the rundown.
‘Tank’ Davis has established himself both as a terrific power-puncher as well as a must-see attraction in-person. He’s expected to produce a big crowd at Barclays, having already sold out arenas in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and his hometown of Baltimore. His first foray in the top-flight of the sport was a seventh-round stoppage of Jose Pedraza to win the IBF super featherweight title. He lost that title on the scale after missing weight for his bout against Francisco Fonseca on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor. In more recent times, Davis went up to lightweight and stopped a faded but tough Yuriorkis Gamboa to win the WBA’s secondary lightweight belt, spectacularly KO’d Leo Santa Cruz back down at 130 lbs in 2020, and then went up to 140 lbs to hand Mario Barrios his first defeat last June. When the Romero fight was called off, tricky and rugged Mexican puncher Isaac Cruz stepped up on short notice and put in a credible showing, resulting in a clear but rare decision win for the 27-year-old Davis.
Interestingly enough, this is the last fight of Davis’ contract with Mayweather Promotions, and there are no indications that Davis wants to renew. This is important if only because it may be one of the reasons we’ve seen Davis not really take on super serious challenges at lightweight over the past couple of years. Perhaps the biggest and best fights for Davis will materialize if/when he signs with a new promoter.
Romero debuted as a pro in 2016, racking up the knockouts against nondescript opposition in a string of developmental fights. In his 12-round debut for the WBA interim lightweight title against Jackson Marinez in 2020, Romero won an extremely debatable unanimous decision, including a ludicrous 118-110 scorecard in a fight many had Marinez winning. He’s since responded with TKOs of Avery Sparrow and Anthony Yigit, both short notice opponents and in Yigit’s case he filled in a couple of days out while prepping for a fight against someone else. The Yigit bout resembled an MMA match at times, but Romero knocked the Swede down three times and got the finish.
I’m not going to downplay this fight from an entertainment standpoint, but on paper this doesn’t figure to be all that competitive. I’ve been wrong a lot, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but this is not the level of opponent Davis should be facing this deep into his career and in a weight class as good as lightweight.
Romero’s best win really should’ve been a loss and it’s not like Jackson Marinez is anything other than a fringe contender. This is a monumental leap in competition for him and from what he’s showcased he’s really just got a puncher’s chance and that’s it. He will have a height advantage of about 2.5 inches and unlike Davis he is a career lightweight, so he may try and lean on his physicality and look to replicate some of Cruz’s own rough-housing as a means of frustrating Davis. Gervonta isn’t a defensive wizard but his chin has held up pretty well.
Ultimately, Davis has the speed, accuracy, and power that is superior every which way to Romero’s that Rolando’s size advantage is likely going to be nullified pretty emphatically. Gervonta does his best work off the counter and he has one of the most lethal uppercuts in boxing (just ask Leo Santa Cruz). Add in his punishing body work and snappy left hook and I believe that while Romero will try and be aggressive and match fire with fire, there’s too much coming back in return from one of the more gifted punchers in the sport.
DraftKings Sportsbook has Davis at -1100 odds to Romero’s +650 underdog tag. Seems about right to me!
Gervonta Davis by KO-5.
What’s on the undercard?
The co-main event is a shambles. Absolutely no one in their right mind would have any interest in Erislandy Lara against Spike O’Sullivan as a competitive fight. Lara can be very much hit-or-miss entertainment wise but he’s a very sound technician who will have an overwhelming skill advantage over the Irishman. O’Sullivan is usually a fun fighter but he isway outmatched for any version of Lara and will almost certainly lose badly.
The other two main card bouts are actually compelling and well matched. Jesus Ramos (18-0, 15 KOs) takes on Luke Santamaria (13-2-1, 7 KO) in the junior middleweight division, while Eduardo Ramirez (26-2-3, 12 KO) kicks off the PPV against Luis Melendez (17-1, 13 KO) in a super featherweight contest. Ramos is a heavy-handed 21-year-old with a lot of upside, but the 24-year-old Santamaria has some personal history with Jesus by virtue of beating his uncle Abel Ramos in February. It’s an intriguing clash of styles that will tell us a lot about both fighters. Ramirez can be a more stinging puncher than his KO ratio suggests, and he’s on a four-fight winning streak. Melendez just had a career-best win over Thomas Mattice, who’s far more formidable than the opponents he’d been facing.
Gervonta Davis vs. Rolando Romero costs $74.99 on Showtime PPV and will commence at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT.