On Saturday night, January 14, 2017, undefeated professional boxer, Gervonta “Tank” Davis (Baltimore, Maryland) won his first world title by defeating IBF World Super Featherweight Champion, Jose Pedraza (Cidra, Puerto Rico). Davis-Pedraza was scheduled for 12 Rounds at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, live on SHOWTIME. At the beginning of Round 7, Davis went on an aggressive offensive attack that ended with a huge right hook that floored the champion. Pedraza made it to his feet, but Ricky Gonzalez stopped the fight at 2:36 of round 7. Davis improved to 17-0, 16 by KO, while Pedraza’s record dropped to 22-1, with 12 KOs. Davis joined Joe Gans, Vincent Pettway, and Hasim Rahman as Baltimore’s only boxing world champions. Davis, 22, became the youngest boxer from Baltimore to win a world title.
Davis’ longtime boxing trainer, Calvin Ford of Upton Boxing Center in Baltimore, Maryland said, “This training camp was a team effort and was put together with minimal funding. Our sparring partners sacrificed their bodies to help us win this title. We received some great work from Drew Correll, Jerome Featherstone, James Winchester, Skip Crumpler and his team, and from two 2016 Olympians, Richardson Hitchins and Shakur Stevenson. Everyone did a great job of preparing Tank for Pedraza.
History was made on January 14, 2017. I remember all the days that our team talked about winning a world title. Tank would dream about walking to the ring and seeing the crowd cheering and the lights shining down on him. It was amazing to see that actually happen that night. He showed a lot of poise for a young boxer going up against a veteran world champion. Tank trained seriously for this fight. Pedraza took a lot of punishment and was still able to last six rounds before being stopped in the seventh round.
I have always said that Tank has an advanced ring I.Q. for a boxer. He fights like he belongs on this level. Everyone that knows Tank has witnessed the ability that he possesses. I’ve been his coach from day one, having competed and traveled with him from the amateurs to the pros. After all the work we’ve put in together, it was great to win on the big stage. We look forward to the challenges ahead.
It was fulfilling to see Tank win a world title, but it’s just as fulfilling to be officially stamped as a world class pro boxing trainer. After the fight, Floyd Mayweather spoke highly of me, and my team, and I felt honored. He said that more teams should be like ours, and that made me proud. For the city of Baltimore, this victory shows that hard work does pay off. For the young kids that are coming behind Tank, it gives them hope that their dreams can come true.”
The 22-year-old Davis discussed winning his first world title. He said, “Going into this fight, so many people had me as an underdog and said I didn’t have a chance to win. They said I didn’t have enough fights, I wouldn’t make weight and wasn’t focused enough, but I showed them that they were wrong. In this training camp, my coach and my team sat me down. They told me I was all over the place and that’s not me. They explained what I was going into and told me everyone makes mistakes, but this is your chance to make things right. I was reminded of all the stuff we have been through and we came up with a plan to win. We had short goals and long goals to make sure I was on point during the camp.
I had some good days and some bad ones, but when I followed the plan, I saw great results. Chris and Jason Nissley of Knockout Fitness helped with planning and making my meals for camp. Changing my diet for this camp helped a lot, and I learned how to eat better. My strength coach, Rashawn “Russ” Blakney, pushed me hard every day. Coach Kenny Ellis assisted Coach Calvin a lot in camp and always made me laugh.
One of the goals we had in camp was to make weight. I had to make 130 or I wouldn’t be able to fight for the title. At the weigh-in, I came in at 129. At the fight, I was ready to go. I did what I had prepared to do, and now I can live knowing I completed one of my goals. Floyd Mayweather recruited me to Mayweather Promotions because he felt that I would be a star in the sport of boxing. I’m grateful that I was put in position to prove that my name should be mentioned with the best fighters in the world. I won this title in my 17th pro fight, one fight earlier than Floyd did it. I’m here to represent Mayweather Promotions as a world champion, and I will be that next big pay-per-view star.
Thank you to Jose Pedraza and his team for giving me the opportunity to fight for his title. Thanks Floyd Mayweather and Mayweather Promotions, Al Haymon, Nike Boxing/Athlete Performance Solutions and Shane Goodell, Dr. Eric Ritter, Joe Fields of Goodlyfe Creative, Martez Malone of Yekim, Mike Wilbar from Hagerstown Boxing, massage therapist Kim Conley, Baltimore City Parks and Recreation, Tom Ingegno at Charm City Integrative Health Clinic, Detrell Wright of Tvche, Melvin Rogers of Just Your Touch Graphics, Terrell Barnes of Rich Brand Clothing, and Ethika. I love my city of Baltimore. My city has been through a lot, but we always make it through the hard times. Winning this title makes me want to work harder for the ones that are coming behind me. I hope I can just inspire people to never give up, keep fighting, and doing great things. Keep supporting me, and I’ll fight for you.”