KEYS TO VICTORY – MARIO “EL AZTECA” BARRIOS: For Barrios, a fast start is a must! The 140lb division is uncharted territory for Davis. Barrios will need to baptize by fire, putting pressure on from the first bell. Santa Cruz showed us how to stop “Tank” from coming forward, but he didn’t have the size or power to maintain it. Similar pressure from Barrios as a bigger, longer fighter could quickly destroy Davis’ comfort zone. One other way to accomplish that is to explore (what most have termed) the ‘soft’ midsection of Davis.
Working the body early will keep “Tank” going backwards. Keep him going backwards long enough and desperation rises. When desperation rises, a strong puncher like Barrios could ensure that “Tank” eventually falls. For Barrios, victory is that simple. But of course….that’s easier said than done.
KEYS TO VICTORY – GERVONTA “TANK” DAVIS
For Davis, this entire fight comes down to two things, one word: “STRENGTH”. Does he have the “strength” to absorb his opponents power? And does he have the “strength” to break the bigger opponent down with his own (power)? Davis will need to tap into his inner ‘Marciano’, recognizing that despite his smaller frame, destructive power can always conquer and devour!
His jab doesn’t have enough reach, so he’ll have to be ready to take some heat. If he can remain composed enough to absorb that punishment and dish his own, it’s his fight to lose. We can point to endless strategy options, but NONE holds more weight than his “strength”.
FOUR TO EXPLORE: (POTENTIAL GAME-CHANGERS TO WATCH)
‘HIGHER WEIGHT, HIGHER RATE?’: When Davis has been properly trained, we’ve seen him pretty active during the fights. When he wasn’t, his output dipped considerably. Most think it’s a matter of his fighting weight, but reality tells us it’s actually not! When he faced Gamboa in a fight at 135lbs, in nearly a full 12rds of action he only threw 321 punches the entire fight. In only 6rds against Santa Cruz, he was only 104 punches off that total in a fight that required him to weigh in at 130lbs. This tells us it wasn’t about weight, as much as it was about training. Davis will face Barrios at 140. The higher weight should be a plus, but is it?
‘NO-BODY-LEFT’: The only certainty in tonight’s fight is that the final result all hinges on one man’s left-hand. Davis is the official southpaw, packing enough heat to end it all with practically any flush left that he lands. From the jab to the uppercut, they all do permanent damage. What makes Barrios scary is that he’s a right handed power puncher, but his left to the body which often sets up the big right has a reputation for stopping men before he can throw it. Who wins tonight? The guy with the biggest ‘left’ sounds about right!
‘PRESS-PLAY’: Pressure is the style of play that will rule the day. A fight with two raging bulls like this is a simple one to articulate: ebbs and flows ’til somebody goes……who falls first? Nobody knows! What we do know is that both men will press the action. What we don’t know is which man will assume that risk first? Statistics tell us that the first one to take the risk is often the last man standing. Which fighter will press-play first?
‘LUCKY 7?’: Being a KO artist can be both a curse and a blessing. The case of Gervonta “Tank” Davis is a classic example. In one respect, it has cleaned up the mess left from poor training habits and rough nights; in the other, it has prevented him from knowing how effective he can be when he has to walk through the fire down to the wire. In 24 pro fights, every single opponent that has gone beyond 6rds with Davis has gotten stopped before the final bell. Of those 24 bouts, none came against a man with the physical advantage of Mario Barrios. Could that size advantage actually benefit Barrios past the 6th round like it has none other? Possible, and very probable.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION – (UPSET BAROMETER: 1 THRU 5)
A Gervonta “Tank” Davis victory is better for the sport and better for the division. Based on this reality, the smart money tonight (betting odds) are clearly on Davis. Anyone who can stop 23 of 24 opponents and everyone that’s ever made it past the 6th round has to be viewed as the favorite. Unfortunately, betting odds don’t dictate fights. Experience and size will be key. Davis started his career nine months earlier than Barrios, yet Barrios has 46 more rounds boxed, and has fought above 135lbs since 2016, with a few of those fights contested above 140. Barrios will use range to keep Davis at a distance, softening him up early, taking advantage of a well fatigued Davis late.
(WINNER: MARIO BARRIOS – TKO11 – UPSET BAROMETER PEAKS AT 5 of 5 AS DAVIS HAS THE POWER TO CHANGE COURSE AT ANYTIME)
Vivek Wallace can be reached at 954.770.9807, or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can view his work here on boxing247.com or Facebook in Daily Fight Threads