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WBA Super Featherweight World Champion and Baltimore native Gervonta “Tank” Davis was honored in his hometown Wednesday as Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young presented him with the Key to the City at a ceremony at City Hall. Davis becomes the first world champion from Baltimore to make a homecoming title defense in nearly 80 years this Saturday night live on SHOWTIME against Ricardo Núñez from Royal Farms Arena.
With his mother and father in attendance, in addition to a throng of local media, the 24-year-old talked about his path from growing up in Baltimore, becoming world champion twice and how he now hopes to inspire the youth of his city.
Here’s what Davis and Mayor Young had to say on Wednesday:
“Thank you all for coming out, I appreciate it. I am very excited to be coming back home to Baltimore to fight in a big event. We’re a couple of days away, I am ready. It is a huge honor to be fighting in front of my home fans. I have been working extremely hard to put on a great show. I appreciate you all for coming out, thank you.
“Boxing is a very important aspect of my life. I know a few people that used to box that I came up under that got killed due to the violence in this city. I thank God for allowing me to stay in the gym and for allowing me to remain focused on my goal to become a professional boxer. Bringing boxing to Baltimore will help bring a lot of inspiration to the city, especially to the young kids out there on the streets that may not have any other way out.
” I believe boxing will help out the city a lot. It will help encourage kids to go to the gym more, and not just go to the gym to take out their anger.
” I never thought I would get the key to a great city like Baltimore. Growing up in the way that I did, I would never have imagined being here right now on this stage getting the key to the city. It is a great honor and I am very proud to be a part of this city’s great history. I am thankful for this opportunity and will make the most out of it.
(Photo credit: Sean Michael Ham/Mayweather Promotions)
“I remember coming in the gym as a kid and my coach would tell the older fighters to get out of the street. He would tell them to stop having one foot in and one foot out of the gym. I would then see six months to a year later that those guys were killed.
“Boxing saved my life and a lot of other kids lives. For the most part, we are still here doing it. We have a lot of young guys coming behind us and we are making the best of it.
“My most important focus is the guy that is in front of me Saturday night. I love the pace of which my career is going. I am getting paid well, I am fighting well and I know my future fights. I am just soaking it all in and getting ready to fight. I have been training more and taking boxing seriously and becoming more professional. I am maturing inside and outside of the ring, so I am ready.
“My tattoo ‘blessed’ and a tattoo about the riots when Freddie Grey was killed mean the most to me. I believe I overcame a lot so I put ‘blessed.’ And the Freddie Grey tattoo means a lot because the situation was big for the city. There was a lot of negativity but we overcame it.
“My daughter has changed me. She has made me grow up quicker because I don’t just have a kid, I have a baby girl. She has made me more patient. I am actually soft when I get around her. I don’t think she changed me as a fighter, but she has changed me as a person. She has helped me mature.
“I am looking forward to giving back to the city on a positive level. Just bringing my city together on a big event. I want everybody to be a part of the fight. I think my team and I did well so Saturday night we just have to watch it play out.
“The discipline in boxing can help kids get off the street, not just the fighting aspect of it. Things that come with boxing can help kids. That’s what helped me and calmed me down a lot. Just having a boxing facility to keep kids off the street would help a lot.
“I know I’m ready, I know Baltimore is ready. Saturday is going to big for all of us.”
MAYOR BERNARD C. “JACK” YOUNG
“We have some great events happening in our city this summer. On Saturday night we will have a world championship boxing bout at the Royal Farms Arena and that is all thanks to this guy standing next to me. Welcome home ‘Tank’. I’m really excited for the championship this weekend in this great city.
“I am a big fan of the sport. This is huge for the city of Baltimore as a world class tourist destination and for the generation of residents, this is a great experience to witness something great in their very own hometown.
“I want to thank ‘Tank’, Leonard Ellerbe, their team and Mayweather Productions for making this dream a reality. ‘Tank’ Davis, the two-time super featherweight world champion will defend his WBA 130-pound title right here in Baltimore. Tank will become the first world champion from Baltimore to make a homecoming defense in nearly eighty years, and that’s huge.
“The boxing history of Baltimore dates back over centuries and during that time our city has produced eight world champions and numerous top contenders. I’m really excited to cheer for our latest champion as he defends his title belt right here at home.
“’Tank’ Davis is the two-time super featherweight title and will be defending his WBA in this championship homecoming against Ricardo Nunez. Davis has had knockouts in all five of his championship fight.
“Welcome home ‘Tank’ Davis, we are so proud of you, go get em. As the Mayor of Baltimore it is my pleasure to present Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis with the key to the city.”
Gervonta Davis vs. Ricardo Nunez ticket info
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions in association with GTD Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or at the Royal Farms Box Office Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. ET to 5 p.m. ET.