The unbeaten lightweight feels he needs to deliver a dominant performance in a televised fight against the most accomplished opponent of his three-year professional career. Davis has attached that type of pressure to his 10-round bout against Jose Pedraza because he narrowly won his last bout by majority decision and the result was changed to a no-contest after Davis tested positive for marijuana. The 24-year-old Davis believes there is more public doubt about his ability to reach the elite level than before he defeated Nahir Albright on two scorecards October 14 at Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas. The 2021 Olympic silver medalist believes he “won every round” against Albright (16-2, 7 KOs, 1 NC), but a motivated Davis (9-0, 6 KOs, 1 NC) wants to re-establish the momentum he had before his most recent appearance.
“I gotta get a win, and not just a win,” Davis told themusicboxingmachine.com. “I gotta beat [Pedraza] up. I gotta stop him. You understand what I’m saying?” Davis understands that Pedraza, even at 34 years old, is more formidable than any of the first 10 opponents he has encountered as a pro. Pedraza is 0-2-1 in his past three bouts, but those two unanimous-decision defeats came against former WBC/WBO 140-pound champion Jose Ramirez (28-1, 18 KOs) and undefeated junior welterweight contender Arnold Barboza Jr. (29-0, 11 KOs). Puerto Rico’s Pedraza (29-5-1, 14 KOs) dropped back down to the lightweight limit of 135 pounds for this fight with Davis on the Teofimo Lopez-Jamaine Ortiz undercard. The former IBF junior lightweight and WBO lightweight champ last competed within the 135-pound division in May 2019, when he stopped Mexico’s Antonio Lozada (41-6-1, 35 KOs) in the ninth round. The skillful, durable Pedraza has lost by knockout or technical knockout only once. He hasn’t been beaten inside the distance since Gervonta Davis (29-0, 27 KOs) stopped Pedraza in the seventh round of their January 2017 bout for Pedraza’s IBF 130-pound championship at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “I got a lotta respect for Pedraza, man,” Davis said. “He’s a great fighter, honestly. Even at the age he’s at now, I feel he still makes great fights. He still throws a lotta punches. He’s not gonna be an easy fight at all. I got a lotta respect for Pedraza. Honestly, I appreciate that he took a fight with me. He didn’t have to fight me. I’m 9-0. He coulda took somebody more experienced than me. You know what I’m saying?
“So, I respect that he took the fight with me. And just going into the fight, I know I just gotta be on my Ps and Qs. And ‘The Businessman’ being on his Ps and Qs, my performances speak for itself. So, as long I do that, then I should make out pretty well.” Davis feels refreshed because he stopped smoking marijuana once the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation suspended him for 90 days following his failed test. Recreational marijuana use is legal in almost half of the 50 United States, including where Davis resides and trains, but Davis sensed a dramatic difference during his first professional training camp without it. The Norfolk, Virginia native expects to feel the difference when it’s time to perform beneath the bright lights against Pedraza as well. “Honestly, I feel like I haven’t been on my Ps and Qs since I turned pro,” Davis said. “I mean, I been doing what I got caught with, I’ve been doing that since I made my pro debut. You know what I’m saying? So, y’all really haven’t got to see the best of me yet. On top of me not having that much experience, I just feel like I’m going into this fight with a different focus, and I just think it’s gonna show.” ESPN will televise Davis-Pedraza as the opener of a two-bout broadcast scheduled to begin at 10:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT) from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. Lopez (19-1, 13 KOs) will make his first defense of the WBO junior welterweight title against Ortiz (17-1-1, 8 KOs), of Worcester, Massachusetts, in the 12-round main event.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for themusicboxingmachine.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.