Photo via Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young/Twitter
Photo via Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young/Twitter

For the next defense of his super featherweight world title, Baltimore-born boxing star Gervonta “Tank” Davis knew he wanted to stand his ground at home.

“I’m very excited to be coming back home to Baltimore to bring home a big fight, a big event,” Davis said today at City Hall. “I actually grew up here, I stayed here to be, you know, reachable for the youth. I ain’t really want to do it out of town. I wanted to do it from home, so it’s more meaningful.”

Clad in an olive green sweatsuit, Davis looked relaxed this morning beside Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, a little over three days out from his 130-lb. title defense at Royal Farms Arena. The 21-0 West Baltimore native (with 20 KOs) is facing Ricardo Nunez of Panama (21-2, with 19 KOs), who’s seeking one of the biggest upsets of the year in trying to beat Davis.

Young presented him with a mayoral salute—”Welcome Home, Tank Davis! We’re so proud of you! Go get ’em!” the copy on the plaque read—as well as the key to the city. The mayor, who in his first days in office proposed public boxing matches at RoFo Arena as a way to resolve street conflicts, lauded Davis as the latest in a long line of champion fighters from Baltimore.

Davis was proud to receive the honor.

A kid coming from Baltimore City this is unbelievable…This is powerful! Thank you to the Mayor of Baltimore Bernard “Jack” Young and also Baltimore city!!!! KEY TO BALTIMORE

— Gervonta Davis (@Gervontaa) July 24, 2019

Young highlighted the draw of a major fight, being broadcast on Showtime Saturday night (the undercard starts at 9 p.m.), brings for a city constantly striving to boost its tourist appeal. The mayor said this is the first homecoming title defense in Baltimore in 80 years.

“This is huge for Baltimore City as a world-class tourist destination, and for the generation of residents who haven’t had a chance to experience this type of event in their hometown.”

Keeping things timely, WBAL-TV’s Jayne Miller referenced Young’s boxing-bouts-for-street-beef idea and asked Davis for his thoughts. The 24-year-old boxer endorsed it, offering his own experience as a testament to the power of the sport: “I was one of them guys that stayed in the gym and stayed hungry, so boxing did save my life.”

Pressed on whether public fights would be a viable solution, Davis responded, “Yes, I believe so. It would help out the city a lot. Actually, it would make kids go to the gym more. Not just doing it because of anger, they doing it because they love it. So, I believe it’ll work.”

Davis, who famously trained at Upton Boxing Center under coach Calvin Ford before he went pro and became Floyd Mayweather’s protégé, has been home preparing for the bout. Last Thursday, he held a public workout at the the Pennsylvania Avenue boxing gym, where he also donated 100 tickets to the fight to the family- and youth-supporting charity What I Need Family Services.

Davis’ last fight was in February, when he knocked out Hugo Ruiz with three minutes to spare in the first round. This will be his first professional bout in Baltimore since he fought at Coppin State University’s Physical Education Complex in July 2013.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...