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Report: Baltimore boxer Gervonta Davis will fight Leo Santa Cruz in the fall

Gervonta Davis, left, heads to the corner as Yuriorkis Gamboa, right, looks up at referee Jack Weiss during the WBA secondary lightweight title boxing bout Dec. 29, 2019, in Atlanta. Davis won when the fight was stopped in the 12th round.
Gervonta Davis, left, heads to the corner as Yuriorkis Gamboa, right, looks up at referee Jack Weiss during the WBA secondary lightweight title boxing bout Dec. 29, 2019, in Atlanta. Davis won when the fight was stopped in the 12th round. (Tami Chappell / AP)

Baltimore boxer Gervonta Davis has reportedly reached a deal in principle for the highest-profile fight of his career against fellow world champion Leo Santa Cruz, even as he continues to deal with fallout from the battery charge he’s facing in Florida.

The undefeated Davis, 25, will fight Santa Cruz (37-1-1) this fall on Showtime pay-per-view, The Athletic reported. The bout, hotly anticipated by hardcore boxing fans, will be contested at the 130-pound super featherweight limit and will likely occur on the West Coast, the report said. Davis won his last fight in December at 135 pounds.

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A spokesman for Showtime Sports said he could not comment at this time, and Mayweather Promotions, which represents Davis, did not immediately respond to messages seeking confirmation of the fight. Davis seemed to confirm the report on Twitter, posting “There you have it see y’all in the fall.”

The matchup has been discussed since last year, with both Davis and Santa Cruz clamoring for it. Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe has told several media outlets that Santa Cruz will be Davis’ next opponent, though he’s said a date and location are still in the works.

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It remains to be seen how public support for Davis, one of boxing’s hottest draws in 2019, will be affected by the pending battery charge, stemming from a public altercation with the mother of his child at a charity basketball game in February. A video posted on social media showed Davis with his hand close to the woman’s neck as he pulled her from her seat and led her out of the arena at the University of Miami.

In an Instagram post shortly after the alleged incident, Davis wrote: “I never once hit her. yea I was aggressive and told her come on ... that’s the mother of my child I would never hurt her...” But in charging documents, Coral Gables Police said surveillance video showed Davis “pulling his arm back then forward towards the victim, which is consistent with a strike to the face where the victim sustained injuries to her lip and left jaw.”

Davis has not commented on the case since he was charged. He suspended his social media accounts as criticism mounted in the days after the video was posted, but he’s returned to posting regularly on Twitter and Instagram. He was scheduled for trial in Miami-Dade County on April 29, but the hearing was delayed and has not been assigned a new date, according to court records.

The uncertainty around Davis’ legal situation and public image has not stopped promoters from negotiating the most important and dangerous fight of his career.

Davis, who won the World Boxing Association lightweight title in December with a 12th-round stoppage of Yuriorkis Gamboa, has never faced an opponent as accomplished as Santa Cruz. The 31-year-old Mexican has won world championships at four different weight classes. His only career loss, subsequently avenged, came against Carl Frampton in 2016.

Davis will have youth, size and power on his side. But Santa Cruz has faced and defeated better competition, and his relentless style leads to intense, action-packed fights.

Even before Davis defeated Gamboa on Dec. 28, his promoters and Showtime executives had begun to hype a potential fight with Santa Cruz on pay-per-view. He had earned such a showcase, they said, by filling arenas in Baltimore and Atlanta and drawing excellent ratings on Showtime.

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