By Max Seitelman: Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions is expecting a hard fight from Leo Santa Cruz when he takes on his fighter Gervonta’ Tank’ Davis on October 24 on Showtime pay-per-view.
In a controversial move, the WBA will have both their 130 and 135-lb titles on the line for the Davis vs. Santa Cruz fight on October 24. Davis won the vacant WBA World lightweight title last December in stopping Yuriorkis Gamboa in round 12.
The boxing public isn’t too happy about both titles being on the line. It won’t be a big deal if Davis wins, as he’s already the WBA secondary 135lb champion. But it’ll be a different story if Santa Cruz wins the fight because he’s not fought at lightweight, and it looks alien for him to be given that title as a bonus for beating Tank.
130 and 135-lb titles on the line
The fans feel that if Santa Cruz wants to win the WBA lightweight title, he needs to move up to 135 and fight for the strap. Davis would likely be a lot stronger at 135 than he will be at 130 because he walks around in the 150s when he’s not cutting weight for his fights.
Going down to 130 to fight Santa Cruz is going to be a massive ordeal for Tank, and a lot of people think he won’t be able to do it.
Tank vs. Santa Cruz is a contest very similar to the 1973 bout between George Foreman and Joe Frazier. Like Frazier, Santa Cruz is a come forward type of brawler, who goes right after his opponents looking to bang them out with his massive hands and nonstop punching attacks.
Frazier was the same type of fighter, but his style of fighting was perfect for the young Foreman, a guy with great size, power, and clubbing punches. Foreman destroyed the seemingly invincible Frazier in two rounds to become the WBA/WBC heavyweight champion of the world.
Santa Cruz’s style of fighting has suited him well in enabling him to capture world titles in four divisions, but it’s going to be a different kettle of fish when he gets in there with Tank on October 24. If Santa Cruz doesn’t adapt and come with a different look for this fight, he’s going to have problems against Tank.
Fans expect a one-sided contest
The boxing public is betting that Santa Cruz will be a one-trick pony and won’t be able to show a different look for this fight, and he’ll be quickly torn apart by Gervonta in the same way that Foreman dispatched Frazier in 1973.
Tank Davis is just like a young Foreman minus the height. Santa Cruz is the ideal opponent for Tank to tee off on for as long as this fight lasts, which is why so many boxing fans are giving Leo no chance of winning the contest.
The venue for the Davis-Santa Cruz clash is at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Ellerbe doesn’t understand how the boxing public is already giving the former four-division world champion Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) no chance of beating Tank.
Anytime a boxer has captured world titles in four weight classes, it lets you know that this is someone with a real shot at winning regardless of what people think.
The only reason Santa Cruz, 31, is being overlooked is because of how great of a fighter the 25-year-old Tank Davis is right now.
The southpaw Baltimore, Maryland native Tank looks to be on another level than anyone in both the 130 and 135-lb divisions, and Santa Cruz is coming off of a subpar effort against Miguel Flores last November in Las Vegas, Nevada.
That was the first contest for Santa Cruz to move up to super featherweight, and he really had a hard time beating a fighter that had lost two out of his last three fights.
Tank needs to defuse Santa Cruz
“Leo does certain things really, really well, and that’s what Tank’s focus is going to be to take those things away from him,” said Ellerbe to Fighthype without going into details about what Santa Cruz does well.”
What Santa Cruz does well is put pressure on his opponents with the way he comes forward and attacks the body and head with hard hooks, uppercuts, and overhand rights. The steady pressure and the high-volume punching is what ultimately winds up being too much for Santa Cruz’s opposition.
Most boxing fans agree that the super featherweight division is a bridge too far for Santa Cruz, as he started his career at super flyweight  in 2006, and he’s captured world titles at 118, 122, 126 and 130.
Although Santa Cruz did win a world title at super-featherweight last November against Flores, he didn’t fight an elite-level guy to capture the belt, and he looked terrible against a fighter that was more of a bottom fringe-level guy than a top five.
The World Boxing Association essentially put Santa Cruz in the perfect spot to win their WBA Super World 130lb belt by ranking Flores high rather than one of the more talented fighters in the division like Chris Colbert and Miguel Roman.
“He’s solid. He can be hit,” Ellerbe said of the 31-year-old Santa Cruz. “And he knows what he’s up against. Tank’s the most devastating puncher in both of the weight classes (super-featherweight and lightweight). So he knows he can’t afford to take no clean shots.”
Leo needs to box
For Santa Cruz to have any chance of defeating Tank Davis on October 24, he’ll need to use the same blueprint that he had for the first Mares fight by keeping it long and not letting the harder-punching Baltimore native to get close to him.
It would also be a good idea for Santa Cruz not to be stationary, and to stay off the ropes. If Santa Cruz backs up against the ropes, Davis will batter him with shots the way he does against all of his opponents that he faces.
“How the f*** are you overlook a four-time world champion? Leo Santa Cruz is the real deal,” asked Ellberbe in scolding the fans for them thinking Davis might overlook Leo.
It’s perfectly understandable why boxing fans think Davis may overlook Santa Cruz because no one is giving him a chance. Santa Cruz is starting to look shopworn now that he’s hit his 30s, and he hasn’t fought a tough opponent in three years since his win over Carl Frampton in their rematch in 2017.
Whether by accident or design, Santa Cruz has glided through the last three years of his career fighting weak opposition repeatedly.
These are Santa Cruz’s last four opponents since 2017:
- Chris Avalos
- Abner Mares
- Rafael Rivera
- Miguel Flores
Santa Cruz’s opponent selection was criticized for every one of those fights by fans, as they felt he should have been fighting better opposition. There no demand for a rematch between Santa Cruz and Mares when they fought for the second time in 2018.
Ellerbe expects Tank to make weight easily
Mares had done nothing to redeem himself from his loss to Santa Cruz in beating two low-level opponents before getting the rematch. People saw the second Santa Cruz-Mares fight as a money-grab in making a fight just for the sake of it bringing money for the fans that remembered how good Mares was in his prime.
Abner was clearly out of his prime by the time he fought Santa Cruz in 2018, and it was a pointless fight to make other than for the revenue.
“You go back and look at the fight before that and you see he came under the weight limit. So, you know, he’s not gonna have no problem with it,” said Ellerbe in predicting that Tank Davis will easily make weight at 130.”
Ellerbe forgets the reason why Davis moved up to lightweight in the first place. He was beginning to have problems making the 130lb limit the year before in 2018, and it had become a real ordeal for him by 2019.