IBF Junior Lightweight World Champion Gervonta Davis, undefeated No. 1 contender Liam Walsh and promoter Floyd Mayweather got into a jarring session during the final press conference at Landmark Hotel in London just two days before Saturday’s world title clash on SHOWTIME from Copper Box Arena.
Baltimore’s “Tank” Davis, America’s youngest world champion, will attempt to become the first American to successfully defend his title on British soil in nearly a decade*, while Walsh (21-0, 14 KOs) aims to dethrone the man that Mayweather has christened the “future of boxing.” (*Note: Paulie Malignaggi vs. Lovemore Ndou in 2008)
Davis vs. Walsh is part of a split-site, four-fight SHOWTME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast that begins on Saturday, May 20, at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. In the main event, Gary Russell Jr. will make his second featherweight title defense and long-awaited homecoming against mandatory challenger Oscar Escandon live from MGM National Harbor just outside of Washington, D.C.
The 22-year-old Davis, who has won by knockout in 16 of his 17 professional fights, will make the first defense of the IBF belt to won via KO over previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza in January. The 30-year-old Walsh has won by knockout in three of his last four bouts and will be a decided local favorite at an expected sold-out Copper Box Arena.
The pound-for-pound great turned promoter Mayweather and Walsh’s two brothers, fellow professional fighters Michael and Ryan, led the jarring during Thursday’s festivities with Mayweather claiming “I’m 40 years old and I’ll kick all three of your asses in the same night.”
Team Walsh was “not intimidated one little bit” by Mayweather or Tank, while the southpaw Davis promised “On Saturday night you’ll be on your ass. And then your brothers can get in next.”
Below are highlights of what the participants had to say:
“I’m just on a whole different level. I do know they built you good, but you’ve been dropped before. They’ve been protecting you from the power, so I know you have no chin. On Saturday night you’ll be on your ass. And then your brothers can get in next.
“Please don’t run Saturday night.
“I’ve just been trying to stay level-headed. Getting that belt brings me that much closer to what I want to do – to take over the sport of boxing. With the performance I put on Saturday night it will bring me a step closer to being the star of boxing and follow after Floyd Mayweather.
“Having Floyd in my corner gives me a lot of confidence. Floyd has been pretty hands on with me, he’s been getting up and training and running with me. He was my hero in the sport of boxing coming up so to just have him in my corner now is amazing.
“I won the belt and now my focus is to take over the sport.
“Growing up in Baltimore, it has a high crime rate. It’s been tough. Where I’m from the gym is in the hood. If it wasn’t for the gym I’d either be in jail or dead. That’s not what I want to be. Boxing saved my life.”
“I’m always confident. As I’ve said many times, his performance against Pedraza was very good. I applaud him. Tank is the best fighter I’ve come up against in my career so far, but I’m also the best fighter he’s going to come against in his career so far. So it makes for a great fight.
“He’s physically very good. He’s very fast, very powerful. He’s a good puncher and performed beyond his years against Pedraza. You can’t knock his performance whatsoever, but there’s still a lot of questions that he has to answer.
“The southpaw stance doesn’t affect me too much. I can switch between the two. I’m comfortable in both stances so that doesn’t bother me.
“I don’t think I can put it into words what it would mean to win the title. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little child. The feeling, the emotion, I can’t put it into words. This is the biggest night of my life.
“There are definitely flaws in his game and they’re there for me to exploit. I plan to take advantage of his mistakes. When I was 22, there were definitely mistakes I made that I wouldn’t make now. So maybe it’s the perfect time to fight him.
“I’m not intimidated one little bit. Not by Floyd, not by Tank, not by anyone.
“I predict I will win the fight. I wouldn’t be shocked if I won by knockout, I wouldn’t be shocked if I won on points. You won’t see me celebrating like a mad man if I knock out Tank because I know I’m capable of it.”
“Frank Warren, Liam Walsh, we just want to commend you guys for stepping up to the plate and making this fight happen and giving the fans what they want to see. The fans want to see blood, sweat and tears.
“Tank is always in tremendous fights, he’s a big knockout artist. I truly believe in my man, and I want to work with him until the end of his career.”