Gervonta Davis vs. Mario Barrios: Fight prediction, undercard, odds, start time, preview, expert picks


For all of the talk as to whether two-division titleholder Gervonta Davis might be biting off more than he can chew by moving up two weight classes from his last fight to challenge unbeaten 140-pound titleholder Mario Barrios in Saturday’s pay-per-view bout, the rising star known simply as “Tank” begs to differ.  

“I think [Barrios] is making a mistake,” Davis said during Thursday’s final press conference. “It’s not just the height. He thinks he’s stronger than me, so we are just going to have to wait and see. If he believes that I’ve never seen anyone like him, then so be it. But they always learn on fight night. That’s when the real me comes out.” 

Davis (24-0, 23 KOs) has used the threat of his tremendous punching power to consistently back opponents up and draw fans to arenas at an impressive pace. But the 26-year-old star of the Mayweather Promotions banner will be giving up nearly six inches in height and the wiry and aggressive Barrios (26-0, 17 KOs), a native of San Antonio, who won the vacant WBA “regular” junior welterweight title by twice dropping unbeaten Batyr Akhmedov in a 2019 unanimous decision.  

“I have all of the tools and I have the size to present a lot of difficulties to ‘Tank,’ and that’s what I plan on doing,” Barrios said. “Both of us throw with bad intentions. We’re in there to hurt and take out our opponent. May the best man win. whether it is round 1 [or] round 12.

“‘Tank’ Davis is going to learn what it’s like to be in there with the type of fighter that I am. Buy your tickets and order the pay-per-view. I know he’s ready and we had a great camp in the Bay Area. We’re both coming with it on Saturday.” 

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The 12-round title bout headlines a Showtime PPV card (9 p.m. ET) from the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, the same site Davis finished former world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa in Round 12 of their 2019 bout when Davis made his debut at 135 pounds to claim the WBA “regular” title.  

But in addition to finding out whether Davis has the power to carry up to a third weight class with the same impact, the 26-year-old Barrios will be stepping up to a level of class he has yet to face as a professional.  

Davis will certainly be the most talented fighter Barrios has yet to face, but the jury is still out as to whether the same will prove true on the flipside, especially after Davis moved back down in weight last October to fight four-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz at 130 pounds only to deliver the Knockout of the Year with a brutal left uppercut in Round 6.  

“When I fight bigger guys in the gym, I always show up,” Davis said. “I hate when people think that I’m small and try to take advantage of me. This is one of the fights where you will see the best of Gervonta Davis.  

“It’s going to surprise him when I connect. It’s not only that I hit hard, but it’s where I place my punches and he will see that Saturday night. It’s going to be an exciting fight on my end and if I hurt him, we know that I am going to get him out of there. It’s going to be an explosive night for the sport of boxing.”

The card also marks the return of a pair of junior middleweights looking to get back to title contention when Erickson Lubin meets Jeison Rosario in the co-main event. Lubin is riding a five-fight win streak while Rosario dropped his pair of titles in a TKO loss to Jermell Charlo last September. Prior to that defeat, Rosario shocked many with his own TKO over Julian Williams to claim the pair of titles at 154 pounds.

Below is the main card with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook as well as a prediction for the main event.

Fight card, odds

  • Gervonta Davis -500 vs. Mario Barrios +380, WBA “regular” junior welterweight title
  • Erickson Lubin -270 vs. Jeison Rosario +220, junior middleweights
  • Carlos Adames -2000 vs. Alexis Salazar +1000, junior middleweights
  • Batyr Akhmedov -800 vs. Argenis Mendez +550, junior welterweights

Prediction 

Barrios’ ability to use his jab as the naturally bigger and longer fighter will prove key in terms of whether he will prove able to control distance early and keep Davis at length. The problem with that scenario goes beyond the fact that Davis’ speed advantage and history of being the shorter man in big fights makes it likely that he gets underneath Barrios’ length sooner than later.  

The main issue for Barrios is whether his natural instincts will come out once he tastes a big shot from Davis and whether he gives up his advantages in order to stand and fight. Not only is that Barrios’ calling card to some degree, as the self-proclaimed Aztec warrior, it has the potential to bring trouble should Davis prove to be the bigger puncher in the fight.  

On the flipside, the potential for what happens should Davis be unable to move Barrios with his power shots remains just as interesting. Should Davis be forced to box from the outside and rely more on movement to outslick his opponent, the potential for a 12-round version of high-speed chess between two aggressive fighters willing to box at close range and absorb big punishment is likely.  

It may take him more than half the fight to break Barrios down, but it’s hard not to imagine Davis doing just that given how special his power appears to be and how dynamic and athletic his setups can be in order to land the perfect fight-altering shot.  

Pick: Davis via TKO9 





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