WBA Super Featherweight World Champion Gervonta Davis and former world champion Hugo Ruiz were on-hand at Churchill Boxing Club in Santa Monica Wednesday as they near their showdown that headlines SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® Saturday, February 9 from Dignity Health Sports Park, formerly StubHub Center, in Carson, California.
Wednesday’s workout also featured fighters who will enter the ring live on SHOWTIME in televised undercard attractions. Undefeated super lightweight Mario Barrios will be facing Mexico’s Richard Zamora, while former world champion Javier Fortuna steps in against lightweight contender Sharif Bogere in the opening bout of the tripleheader beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Here is what the fighters had to say Wednesday in Santa Monica as they prepare for their Saturday night attractions:
“I was just watching Hugo Ruiz as I came in here. 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. The fact that this is a late change doesn’t concern me because once I get in there, I’ll be able to make adjustments. I’m ready.
“It’s great to make it to this level. To have people under me like ‘Truck’ [Lorenzo Simpson], it feels amazing to inspire them to go further in life. It makes me want to push harder so that I can become the best that I can be.
“I come from a city with a lot of violence and things like that, but my mind was always focused on what I wanted to be in life. I traveled when I was super young, so my mindset was never like a typical eight-year-old. I won my first nationals when I was 10 years old. I’ve seen the world and I’ve seen the bigger picture. At that time, coming up in the gym, there were guys that I was looking up to that were getting killed in the streets. There were days in the gym where we would get a call that guys we trained with had been killed. I knew that it’s either boxing or things wouldn’t turn out too good. I knew I had to stay in the gym and stay focused.
“Camp is going great. I feel ready for Saturday night. I’m disappointed that I’m not facing Abner Mares but it doesn’t change too much. I heard that he hurt his elbow at first, I didn’t know that it was his eye. Once I heard it was his eye, I took it more seriously.
“I wanted to fight Abner. We could probably have done it back home but I gave him the chance to fight in LA. I am the champion, so I’m willing to give him another shot.”
“I feel great. I just came off of training for my last fight but I just feel like I’m continuing that training. I think it’s going to serve as great preparation for this next fight. It’s only going to be a benefit for me.
“I think this is going to be an explosive fight. We’re both known for our knockouts and this is a fight that can end at any moment. It’s going to be by a knockout.
“Out of my 39 wins, 33 of them are knockouts so I can say with confidence that I can knock out Gervonta Davis. No fighter is invincible and that’s a really possible outcome on Saturday.
“Gervonta Davis is a great fighter. I’ve watched him fight and I know that he’s a very strong fighter with a lot in his arsenal. There’s a reason why he’s a world champion right now but we know what we’re looking for. We have the hunger and the ambition to be triumphant. We have everything we need to beat Gervonta.
“I took the fight on short notice and I just fought, but I am ready. I trained very hard for my last fight and I still feel more than ready to go. I’m very excited to have this world championship opportunity and I am going to take advantage of it and show the world what I can do.
“I had a fight in November where I was training for a lefty. I then had another fight in January where I was preparing for a lefty. They changed my opponent last minute but I was still ready to go. I’ve been preparing for a lefty for five months and I think that’s a huge advantage for me.
“The reason I have so many knockouts is because I like to surprise my opponents and I really think I have something that I can surprise Gervonta with. Come Saturday, we will see how many ways I can surprise him.
“Gervonta is a fighter just like I am. We both are going in there with all the will to win and come Saturday I think we are going to give the people the show that they really want to see. I am ready to put on a spectacular show.”
“I feel great. I’ve been training out in the Bay Area with Virgil Hunter since the beginning of December. I was getting great work, sparring with Devin Haney. We got about two or three weeks of great work just going at it. That was tremendous experience just keeping up with him. He’s a very explosive fighter and ahead of the curve for his age. I finished off camp sparring with Amir Khan, who is getting ready for his Terrence Crawford fight. So overall, camp was great.
“This is going to be one of my toughest fights but I put in all the hard work in camp and I’m going into Saturday night with no doubts. If I get him hurt, I’m going to look to finish him off but the knockout is not something I’ll be looking for right away in the fight.
“I’m thinking about the weather a little bit, but at the end of the day I’m a fighter and I’m going to overcome anything I have to in the ring. Whether it’s raining, whether it’s cold, once the bell rings it doesn’t matter what the weather is.
“I always try to go into my fights being as smart as possible. I always want to box as much as I can but at the end of the day, I’m Mexican so if I get caught with a good punch I’m going to want to sit there and bang. I’m definitely expecting some fireworks. It’s going to be an action-packed fight and I guarantee you one of us is going to go down. I’ve worked my ass off to make sure I’m not going to be the one on the canvas.
“Sparring top guys like Devin Haney and Amir Khan has been great and a huge advantage for me. People would pay top dollar to see that, but all of us were just there appreciating the work because we all need it. That was world class work. You really can’t beat it.
“Texas has always been a hotbed for boxing, especially in the cities of San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Now, we have a lot of upcoming fighters that are really showing out. It’s only a matter of time before Texas becomes one of the main capitals for boxing.
“In the next 18 months, I’ll hopefully get a shot at a world title. I want to face any one of the champions right now. I feel I’m ready. I’ve worked my ass off to get to this point and I feel it’s only a matter of time before we get that title shot. Right now, my sight is set on the junior welterweight division and we’re going to try to take over the division as much as I can. But at the same time, I’m 6’1″ and it’s only a matter of time before I outgrow the division but as long as I’m here and I can make the weight healthy and I feel strong, we’re going to continue to dominate.”
“This is my first time in Los Angeles and I’m really excited to fight in a place like LA. This is a really well-known place to fight that I’ve known about my whole life and I’m ready to put on a showcase that people will recognize. I want people to see me as a great fighter from here on out.
“I’ve been very focused this entire training camp. My opponent changed late but my objective has not changed whatsoever. Whoever I face on Saturday, I’m ready to fight.
“I’m only 25 years old. Some would say I got a late start because I only started training and boxing when I was 15 or 16 years old but it’s always been in my blood. My grandfather was a boxer and I always knew the sport was going to be my calling at the end of the day.
“We look forward to showing off this weekend. I’m ready to show the people of the United States who I am. I want to stand out and showcase what I’m all about. I’ve shown what I can do in Mexico and now I want everybody in the U.S. to show who I am in America now. To be surrounded by so many talented fighters here, this is the type of fighter I want to be. I want to be recognized the same way the other top fighters around here are.
“I think that Barrios’ height is something that I need to think about but I’m not worried about it. I’ve learned how to fight against different styles and I’ve fought many different fighters so I am ready for whatever comes my way. I just want to put on a great show so the fans will only have good things to say about me.”
“I feel good. We are in weight and in great shape. On Saturday, I will be the best fighter I can be. My new trainer and I are in top shape. We had a really good training camp. This fight is important for me. On Saturday my career at 135 will be defined.
“I have been working very hard in the gym. I have a great strategy and the fans will see on Saturday night what I’m all about. Bogere is aggressive, he comes forward and is a very good boxer but I’m not concerned. I move forward and I’m aggressive too. I can take him.
“Hopefully, that chicken Gervonta Davis will go up to 135. If not, I’m willing to come down to 130 to fight him. I want his belt. I respect his promoters, they know how to take care of him and I have no problem with that but I’m just hoping that he’s willing to fight me. He has shown a lack of respect as a human being. He hasn’t done what a champion should do and he’s fighting guys he shouldn’t be fighting.
“What do I think of Gervonta’s new opponent? Everybody has social media and can see what the fans are saying about it.
“My fight against [Robert] Easter is hard to swallow. It was one of those fights where you go in there, you work hard, you show you are the better fighter but the judges don’t reward you for it. I know I was the better fighter. I won that fight. A lot of people saw it the same way but sometimes the judges go for the business side of things. I was hoping for a rematch but nobody ever gave me the opportunity.
“I want to fight the best fighters out there. I don’t care who they are. If they have a title, I’ll fight them. If they are good, I’ll fight them as well.”
“Javier Fortuna is a veteran. We have similar experience. He’s been there for a long time but so have I. I think we’re going to put a on a good show for the people. He makes mistakes and I’m going to capitalize on those.
“This is a dream for me. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years since I was a little kid. I have a passion for this sport and a lot of people to make proud. Those people keep me going through all of the tough times, the injuries, the setbacks, I’m just so thankful that I have another day and another blessing. I’m so thankful for this opportunity.
“I’m happy to have an opponent finally step up to the plate. I feel people have been avoiding me but he stepped up and I think we’re going to put on a great show. We both have an exciting style and I’m looking forward to Saturday. In his fight against Robert Easter Jr., I think he did his best to win the fight but he came up short.
“As my trainer always tells me, keep knocking on the door. One day, they’re going to open the door. Saturday, they will open the door. After Saturday night, the world is going to see the ‘The Lion’ back in the top ten in the world.”
LEONARD ELLERBE, CEO of Mayweather Promotions
“This is a guy [Ruiz] that just fought on the Broner card. He’s in great shape, he’s a great fighter and he’s coming to put on a performance on Saturday night. ‘Tank’ is in great shape but he’s got to be cognizant of a guy that he hasn’t prepared for. We’ve seen what has happened in other fights, specifically the [Jermall] Charlo fight. [Matvey] Korobov came in as a last-minute replacement and it was a tough fight. Certainly tougher than he had anticipated but that’s part of the sport. ‘Tank’ has to be ready for anything.
“Gervonta has a tough opponent in front of him Saturday night. Any time you are preparing for a specific guy, it’s going to take a minute to get used to your new opponent. It will be interesting. ‘Tank’ will have to figure it out but I think he will be able to go to work and figure it out.
“I’m always confident in ‘Tank’. He’s one of the top fighters out there in the sport. He’s the biggest puncher in the entire sport and he’ll eventually be the biggest star in the sport. This is the start of a very big career for all of his U.S. fans and the international fans as well. He’s ready to take over the entire sport and Saturday night is just the start.
“Anytime you lose a great fighter like Abner Mares from your card, obviously there is always a little bit of a shakeup. My prayers go out to him and his family and we wish him a speedy recovery. Abner is a great champion, a great human being and a guy that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. He will be able to hopefully bounce back.”