NEW YORK (AP) — If this was about trading insults, Gervonta Davis might not be the better man this time.
Rolando Romero can talk and has been doing plenty of it leading into their match Saturday night, profanely poking fun at everything from the quality of Davis’ resume to the size of his head.
When it comes to trading punches, Davis insists it will be a different story in a heated lightweight title matchup of unbeatens in Brooklyn.
“I feel as though the talking is over. The time is now,” Davis said.
He has been doing this much longer, not just at the highest levels of boxing, but in the sport itself. When it’s time to stop jabbering and start jabbing, he believes there will be a big difference against a fighter who’s had only about half as many professional fights.
The bout headlines a Showtime pay-per-view card and the first big boxing event back in Brooklyn since the pandemic started more than two years ago. Barclays Center is where Davis (26-0, 24 KOs) won his first title in 2017, and he has gone on to draw big crowds from coast to coast while winning titles in three different weight classes.
At 27, he has built himself into one of the biggest names in boxing, though Romero (14-0, 12 KOs) contends he did it by beating up on smaller fighters, or carefully chosen opponents who lack his power.
Romero has boasted that he will knock out Davis in one round. He didn’t back away from that when asked what he envisions happening Saturday night.
“Tank flatlined on the ground,” he said.
Davis seems alternately annoyed and amused by the antics of the 26-year-old Romero, who is on the brink of the biggest night of a boxing career that isn’t even 10 years old. He only took up the sport after switching from judo at 17, giving Davis a significant advantage in ring rounds.
Davis seemed frustrated enough by Romero to push his opponent off the stage at their weigh-in Friday, forcing the fighters to be separated.
“There’s definitely different levels when you come to the sport of boxing,” Davis said. “There’s people that play with boxing and there’s people that’ve been doing this since they were kids. You’ve got somebody that’s been doing this since they were 7 and somebody that’s been doing this since they were 17. Like, come on, bro. It’s time to show that I’m one of the ones.”
They were scheduled to fight in December before Romero was taken off the card while authorities investigated accusations of sexual assault against him. No charges were filed.
Romero claims they were supposed to share the ring before that, but Davis twice backed out of plans to spar with him. He said Davis is scared of him and believes he saw more fear against Isaac Cruz, the replacement opponent Davis fought in Los Angeles.
Davis won that fight by unanimous decision, ending a streak of stoppages that began in 2015. Romero said Cruz hit Davis easily and believes the Baltimore native will be target practice for his power punches.
“There’s no way I can miss,” Romero said. “He has a big-ass head.”
Both fighters are promoted by Mayweather Promotions, where Davis has long been the big star, considered a worthy successor to Floyd Mayweather. He’ll have to make room — or move out of the way — for Romero if the challenger fights as good as he talks.
Romero’s martial arts background has given him a reputation of an awkward fighter in the way he punches, but Davis just sees an undeveloped one. Mastering the microphone helped Romero land a spot in the main event of a pay-per-view after just 14 fights, but experience isn’t required to hype a fight.
It makes a big difference when the words stop and the punching starts. Once that’s done, Davis is confident there won’t be anything left for Romero to talk about.
“What we’re going to find out on Saturday night is that, the person who’s dishing it, can they take it?” Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said.