Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia: Boxing preview and prediction

Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis are the stars of the show this week, as the pair face off in a huge clash of rising star and established champion.

By: Lukasz Fenrych | 2 months ago
Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia: Boxing preview and prediction

We’ve got a big one this weekend, as Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis put their reputations, and undefeated records, on the line. They’ve been jawing at each other for a while now, but with two explosive, powerful punchers in what should be their prime, this might be the best time to make this fight. 

The fight is available on both DAZN PPV and Showtime PPV in the US. The main card starts at 8PM ET.  Internationally, check your local DAZN schedules or look to Fite.TV for your options. You can find our full guide on how to watch the fight here.

The Preview: How did Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis Get here?

Of the two fighters, ‘Tank’ Davis (28-0-0, 26KOs) is the far more experienced, and, on paper, the much more proven as well. He first won a world title back in 2017, against Jose Pedraza at 130lbs. In the intervening years, he’s defended it, won another after losing that one on the scales, and taken belts at both 135 and 140lbs to become a three-weight champion. Several of his opponents are recognisable names, too. 

And yet, almost every one of those fights since comes with huge caveats. Pedraza himself was a legitimate opponent and good win, for sure. But after that, Tank went on a run of opponents who were either untested at world level, or (in the case of both Yuiriorkis Gamboa and Leo Santa Cruz) both well past their best and way over their ideal weight. 

It is fair to say that his most recent contests have proved more. Mario Barrios at 140lbs is a good win, and Isaac Cruz has proved himself a solid fighter too. Even his tune-up for this, against Hector Luis Garcia in January, was an opponent who’d shown up last year with a couple of big wins out of nowhere (albeit a division lighter). But in terms of real statement wins, Tank is surprisingly light for someone who’s been competing for titles for six years, and he could do with one here to really put the doubters away.

Just looking at the numbers, Ryan Garcia’s (23-0-0  19 KOs) experience might not seem much removed from Gervonta Davis’. He only turned pro a year before Davis won his title, though. And a big portion of that number is from the first 18 months of his career, where he fought 13 opponents, none of whom they’re to challenge him. 

In terms of opponents really able to show what he’s made of, it really comes down to his last 3. His knockout win over Luke Campbell in 2021 was for a 135lb interim title, but he wasn’t able to turn that into anything, as he moved up in weight immediately after. He did show there that he can handle duress, as Campbell knocked him down in the second round before being finished himself in the seventh. 

As well as that, wins over Emmanuel Tagoe and Javier Fortuna are solid. Not huge, but between those three, he has proven he belongs at least contending at world level, even without the actual title to show for it. Tank is another level up, of course, but that level may be closer than it seems. 

One thing to note is that, unusually for a boxing event of this size, there are no titles on the line. Gervonta Davis’ team insisted on a 136lb catchweight, which puts his 135lb title out of contention, and since his win over Barrios was a while ago now, he’d moved on from that 140lb belt in the interim. 

That this has done nothing to dim excitement for the fight should tell you what kind of show we’re expecting. Belts or not, we’re seeing two stars get in the ring on Saturday.

Ryan Garcia vs Gervonta Davis: The breakdown

Technically, too, there are a lot of reasons to believe Gervonta Davis should win, that may not quite hold up to as much scrutiny as one might think. He certainly does more things, both offensively and defensively- he has to date at least shown a deeper toolbox of skills than Ryan Garcia. That’s because Garcia is, ultimately, quite a simple fighter. Simple, of course, is not necessarily the same as limited, but he does have a very focused gameplan.

At the broadest level, that plan is to use his length to apply his power.  He’s a big guy for the divisions he’s fought in till now, and you can see from the second he starts fighting that he’s based his game around that. Right from the very basics, as his stance is typically quite narrow, long and bladed with his shoulders angled side-on to his opponent. 

His footwork, too, is about that. When an opponent comes at him, he tends to be careful to maintain his preferred range, mid- and long. Even when on the front foot, as he does sometimes have to be, he’ll rarely step in close himself directly. He’s no jab-poking range-fighter, but he’s aiming to keep it outside.

His aim is to either bait or provoke movements he can take advantage of. He’s very much a counterpuncher, so he wants his opponent to throw the significant shots first. So he’ll either edge into the range they can throw at him from, or eventually hold his feet, just briefly, to allow them to get a little closer. When they throw, though, he’ll sway back-  or hop back, if he feels it necessary- and then aim to throw the counters. Which do come with a lot of power and speed. 

That makes his a game of fine margins, though. He has to let his opponents see openings, in order to get them to throw. And because his defence is also based very much on his length, it can be short-circuited. He can catch shots on the guard a bit, sure, but for the most part his defence is just pulling back enough that an opponent can’t reach him without overbalancing.

He’s quite a straight-line mover too- he’s not typically angling or pivoting out when an opponent attacks him. That’s mostly planned- if he circled, he’d have to spend time setting to throw, when he backs himself to get the power home anyway. But it does leave him vulnerable if he mistimes or misreads an opponent’s approach.

And against Gervonta Davis, that is a very risky move. Tank isn’t just a fast and powerful puncher- though he is definitely that. He’s extremely good at disguising what his shots are until very late. Very few fighters can make a headshot look like it’s going to the body as late in the arc as Davis does. If Luke Campbell was able to catch Ryan Garcia off guard and drop him, Tank will fancy his chances. The fact that he’s very good at arcing shots, hooks and the like, is of double benefit against Garcia, whose long stance makes him potentially more vulnerable if a shot does come in from wide.

He also, at first glance, has a much better defence. For sure, when opponents are attacking him, Davis has much, much more going  on- his head movement is excellent in those situations, he knows how to keep his feet under him, and a lengthy attack gives Davis time to set up counters of his own. He’s good at just outright disengaging too -his footwork going backwards is quality, keeping himself in space and circling without losing shape or balance. 

The combination of those two things might make it seem that all the advantages lie with Tank. It’ll be a risk for Garcia to push at him, and he has the tools to thread holes in Garcia’s defence in turn.


The thing is, ultimately, Tank Davis’ game is built, just like Garcia’s, almost entirely around using his explosivity. His skill isn’t fake, as such, but in some respects it’s almost beside the point. Where he’s most skilled, and what he most wants to do, are not actually the same thing. Let’s explain.

In the ring. Davis is usually the smaller man. In that situation, the usual template for a power puncher is Mike Tyson-type boxing- slipping and sliding in close before exploding up into shots from in close. Tank, though, is not that guy. He disguises his shots well, yes- but he really doesn’t do a great deal to set them up. He doesn’t build off a jab, or throw set-up shots to draw an opponent’s attention away from the real attack. He just hurls them in, and relies on the disguise and his speed to get them home.

And for all his defensive movement, his attacking footwork is often just very limited. He’ll frequently simply leap in at his opponents from distance, counting again on his speed to get him in safe. And in those moments, crucially, his defence is far less solid. His chin will come up, and since he’s leaping in, he can’t really curtail or adjust his movement. 

To this date, he has avoided being punished for this too hard. He’s had moments of trouble, but ultimately he’s always come through and gotten to his opponents eventually. The thing is though, that’s usually been against opponents a lot smaller than Ryan Garcia- and even someone like Leo Santa Cruz was able to cause him trouble before the finish came.

The best insight into what Ryan Garcia might have here, though, is to look at Tank’s 2021 fight with Mario Barrios. Barrios is in some ways quite a similar fighter to Garcia- a long, rangy boxer, somewhat straight-lined, but aiming to bait his opponent into range to unleash powerful straight shots as they come at him

And while it’s true that Tank got close and knocked him out eventually, he really did get a workout, and struggled, particularly early, to close the distance without falling short and taking shots on the way. He figured it out in the end, but it took him a while. That’s not the only time- it took him 12 rounds to finish an undersized and fragile Yuriorkis Gamboa, despite having him down twice earlier on. It’s not that Tank lacks ring awareness, but it can take him a while to bring his reads to bear. 

Barrios, though, does not hit like Garcia, and he isn’t as fast. If Tank, trying to close distance, gets intercepted by either Garcia’s lead left hook or his straight right, he could be in dire trouble. And although he isn’t as slick with as many shots as Tank, those two are things of beauty. They work well in combination too.

His game in general is set up for the right, and opponents tend to fall into avoiding that. When they do, the lead hook comes out of nowhere, a short, sweeping shot crunching opponents trying to edge around his jab, away from the right hand power. If Tank takes too long to figure out how to close up on him, Garcia is a real, real threat here.

Ultimately, this is a contest between two fighters who aren’t just explosive but rely on that explosiveness. And in that matchup, there are good reasons to favour the (substantially) bigger of the two. 

There is one caveat to that though: the weight. Both Garcia and Tank have topped out at 140lbs in their careers so far, but this fight is not at that weight. Gervonta Davis and his team insisted on that 136lb catchweight. And while Tank was just proving that he could fight at 140, Ryan Garcia moved up for a reason. He’d been finding it difficult to make 135. Given that there is also a 10lb rehydration clause (meaning they will be weighed again on the morning of the fight and required to come in at 145), that cut may drain Garcia some. 

Still, he accepted those terms, and is presumably confident he can handle it. If he can, though there are good reasons Davis is favourite, Garcia does have some very solid routes to victory here. 

What’s On the Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia Undercard?

It’s not a great undercard, to be honest. In the co-main, Dave Morrell is an exciting, aggressive rising star at super-middleweight- but his intended opponent, Sena Agbeko, had to pull out a week before the fight. They rescued it by bringing in former Olympic medalist, Brazilian Yamaguchi Falcao. He’s alright, but he’s shown nothing as a pro to suggest he can live with Morrell.

Beyond that, we see a rematch between Bektemir Melikuziev and Gabriel Rosado, with the Uzbek puncher trying to avenge his shock defeat at Rosado’s hands two years ago. On paper, that seems like a neat idea. In practice, Rosado has been in war after war, has lost three straight since then, and at 37 is probably a good decade past his best years. If ‘the Bully’ can’t beat him this time, he’s got no shot at world level- if he does, he’s proved nothing. 

The other fight on the PPV card is between Elijah Garcia and Kevin Salgado Zambrano at middleweight, which could be a decent showing between two rising hopefuls, but isn’t what anyone’s going to be tuning in for. The prelims, likewise, are a slate of prospects, some potentially entertaining but no blue-chippers. As a show, it’s alright, but it’s really all about the main event.

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About the author
Lukasz Fenrych
Lukasz Fenrych

Lukasz Fenrych is an analyst and writer. He has been covering combat sports since 2019, and joined Bloody Elbow's boxing team in 2022.

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