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Baltimore native Gervonta Davis to defend WBA title Saturday night on Showtime

Gervonta Davis in training at the Upton Boxing Center in West Baltimore.
Gervonta Davis in training at the Upton Boxing Center in West Baltimore. (Lorin Chvotkin)

Baltimore-born Gervonta Davis will make his first defense of his WBA super featherweight title Saturday night against heavy-punching Hugo Ruiz, a late replacement for Abner Mares.

Davis (20-0 with 19 knockouts) will headline the fight card from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif., to be broadcast on Showtime starting at 10 p.m.

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Coming off a 10-month layoff since he won the title with a third-round knockout of Jesus Cuellar, Davis had looked forward to a showcase matchup with Mares, a former world champion in three different weight classes. But Mares pulled out last week, first blaming an elbow injury and then acknowledging he’d undergone surgery for a detached retina.

Gervonta Davis's talent and charisma have earned him backing from some of the most powerful people in boxing. Now, as he prepares to defend his world title Saturday, he's trying to convince them of his professionalism.

Promoters scrambled to find a replacement and settled on Ruiz (39-4 with 33 knockouts), a former WBC super bantamweight champion who’d just won his last fight Jan. 19. Though Ruiz will move up in weight to fight Davis, he holds height, reach and experience advantages over the champion.

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Ruiz has promised an all-action fight.

“Out of my 39 wins, 33 of them are knockouts so I can say with confidence that I can knock out Gervonta Davis,” he told reporters in California on Wednesday. “No fighter is invincible and that’s a really possible outcome on Saturday.”

Davis wrote on Twitter that Ruiz’s aggressive talk angered him and had him looking for a knockout of his own.

“I was just watching Hugo Ruiz as I came in here,” he said Wednesday. “All I know is that he is fast, he has some speed. It looked like he has some power and good timing. I actually think that this is not a walk in the park, like people think.”

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