|Davis to win in rounds 4-6||23/10||Paddy Power|
|Davis to win in rounds 1-6||4/7||Ladbrokes|
Gervonta Davis, he of the thick neck, thicker jewellery and thunderous punches, returns to action on Saturday in Carson, California in what was once the StubHub Centre, but has recently be renamed the Dignity Health Sports Park. A name lacking the poetry, grit or evocative history of the York Hall or Caesers’ Palace, but an important boxing venue these days.
Davis’ defence of the WBA Super-Featherweight title, versus late-replacement Hugo Ruiz, is his first since winning the title in April of last year. Davis, his handlers and those of us who recognise his potential all hope the bout will prove an important jumping off point from which the 24-year old builds momentum and recaptures the acclaim he was initially afforded.
Soft-featured but with darkness in his eyes, Davis is a product of Baltimore’s mean streets, having fought to survive the life of chaos his parents’ drug problems inflicted on him.
Just getting to the ‘start line’ of a professional career in 2013 was achievement in itself, and it is easy to conclude in the period where he stagnated, that the initial riches and early attention he garnered were distracting for the twenty-something. Six years on, 2019 becomes a pivotal year if he is to capitalise fully on the potency of his youth and undoubted talent.
Like so many of his contemporaries, the flag of inactivity has unfurled over his portion of the 130-pound dominion, and the interest in his career is further endangered by the withdrawal of the original opponent; veteran Abner Mares. Mares would have been a stiffer test and a name with richer history too.
Despite the misfortune of Mares pulling out, Hugo Ruiz’s willingness to box, just three weeks after fighting on the Manny Pacquiao versus Adrien Broner undercard, saves the show and offers Davis an opportunity to win, and to win in style.
Bookmakers’ odds largely reflect the widely held view that Davis is the stronger, fresher, quicker and more gifted of the two.
Davis is 1/50 (-5000) across the board while Ruiz is available at a best price of 14/1 (+1400) with Betway.
Ruiz has fought at world title level before, albeit in the Bantamweight and Super-Bantamweight divisions, and has always been a busy professional. He briefly held the WBC 122 pound belt in 2016.
At 32, he must be considered a veteran even in this era of apparently elastic primes. Having enjoyed success in his last bout, a 10 round decision win, he will be confident and presumably recognises the ‘free-swing’ the bout represents for him in the twilight of a career that hasn’t, in victory or defeat, included a fighter of Davis’ profile thus far.
Taller than Davis, with longer reach, it could be assumed Ruiz will look to box his way in to a contest in which the champion will be stronger and quicker.
Timing will be key to him and he has shown good, fight changing power in previous fights, whether he can shock Davis with power is hard to foresee. Davis is stout and, if fighters were made by design, perfectly built to absorb any heavier shots Ruiz can land.
It is difficult to predict how much energy Ruiz could replenish in the three weeks since his last bout, it isn’t a theme we’re accustomed to these days but it could breed doubt in Ruiz’s own mind as to how long he can linger. Davis will consider this too. As a natural fighter, one assumes his instinct will advise him swiftly if he feels Ruiz weakening.
With a long period of inactivity and some disappointments already in his career, despite an unbeaten record, Davis could be expected to dismiss the threat offered by the replacement and look for an early finish.
As such, it’s no surprise to see he’s 4/5 (-125) with Paddy Power to win inside six rounds.
Rounds would do him no harm but equally, a highlight reel knockout would serve to remind many of his credentials just at the moment natural rivals appear to move beyond this weight class.
Davis should win this fight any way he chooses, the only risks to his success are lethargy or the pursuit of a knockout causing him to not stay busy enough in the early going. Once in a ‘rut’, or a messy fight, Ruiz’ confidence could grow and his height and reach become a greater issue.
I suspect Davis will get to him quite early and Ruiz, though brave like so many of his countrymen that we’ve marvelled at in the prize ring, will succumb to his own fatigue and Davis’ power around rounds 4-6, which is available to back at 23/10 with Paddy Power.
There is little value in the 1/50 available on a Davis win. And not enough to tempt us that the 14/1 on Ruiz is worthy of a cover investment either.