Gervonta Davis, the one time ‘menace to society’, stands on the steps of superstardom and can follow in the footsteps of boxing’s greatest ever

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Gym, jail or death

This weekend, the baby-faced 22-year-old will fight on British shores, when he defends his world title against Liam Walsh

GERVONTA DAVIS has the face of a choirboy and talks so softly it is a strain just to catch his words.

But appearances are most definitely deceptive in the case of the young man described by the great Floyd Mayweather as “the future of boxing.”

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Gervonta Davis (left) could well be the next big thing in boxing – but he has already embarked on that journey

For the baby-faced 22-year-old was once called “a menace to society” by his schoolteachers as he fought to survive the streets of America’s murder capital.


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He was rescued from a short and brutal life by trainer Calvin Ford, a former lieutenant in one of Baltimore’s most feared gangs and the inspiration for the ‘Cutty’ character in smash TV hit The Wire.

Ford, like Davis’ drug-dealer father, served a lengthy prison sentence before discovering salvation coaching boxing to the city’s street kids.

One of his young protégées was stabbed through the heart, another was shot 12 times.

Gervonta Davis was rescued from a life of crime and prison - and just look how it's turning out

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Gervonta Davis was rescued from a life of crime and prison – and just look how it’s turning out

Under some fine coaching, and also an arm around the shoulder, Gervonta Davis has chased his dreams

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Under some fine coaching, and also an arm around the shoulder, Gervonta Davis has chased his dreams

Calvin Ford, boxing coach, at the Upton Boxing Club in Baltimore was the inspiration for character Dennis 'Cutty' Wise from The Wire

Calvin Ford, boxing coach, at the Upton Boxing Club in Baltimore was the inspiration for character Dennis ‘Cutty’ Wise from The Wire

From the mean streets of Baltimore, it's not been an easy path for Gervonta Davis to realise his boxing dream

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From the mean streets of Baltimore, it’s not been an easy path for Gervonta Davis to realise his boxing dream


But Davis was able to follow a different path and now stands on the brink of superstardom.

“It was the gym, jail or death,” he admits as he reflects on his troubled childhood in a city which suffered 318 murders last year alone.

Ford knows that Davis could easily have become just another statistic and says: “We had a lot of great kids in our camp that could have been world champions but they were swallowed up by the streets of Baltimore.

“Bad things happened but it let Gervonta see the bigger picture. He got to learn fast through all the trials and tribulations he went through.

Training is going as hard as it always does for Gervonta Davis as he nears his UK debut

PA:Press Association Images

Training is going as hard as it always does for Gervonta Davis as he nears his UK debut

Away from the boxing ring, Gervonta Davis is methodical and thankful for the way his life has turned around

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Away from the boxing ring, Gervonta Davis is methodical and thankful for the way his life has turned around

Gervonta talks the talk, but also walks the walk, defeating all of his opponents since turning professional

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Gervonta talks the talk, but also walks the walk, defeating all of his opponents since turning professional

“He’s understood what we’re up against since he was eight-years-old. I call him the beacon for the rest of them coming behind.

“He’s setting the bar in the same way that Floyd Mayweather did before him. He’s going to be the megastar he wants to be.”

Davis, who defends his IBF junior lightweight title against Britain’s unbeaten Liam Walsh at London’s Copper Box Arena on Saturday, knows how lucky he has been.

“I was younger than most of them guys that were on the streets,” he explains. “I learned from their mistakes before I jumped out there with them.

CHECK out Gervonta Davis’ insane workout technique

“I was seeing them going to jail and some were getting killed. That’s what happens if you lead that kind of life.

“But my passion for boxing was so great that I seeing the dangers better than the average kid in Baltimore.

“If you stay in the gym, you become world champion. That’s the message I want to give to motivate the youth that is coming behind me.”

Floyd Mayweather has taken on the exciting talent, and is expecting even bigger and better things from his charge

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Floyd Mayweather has taken on the exciting talent, and is expecting even bigger and better things from his charge

On Saturday at the Copper Box Arena in London, Gervonta Davis will defend his world super-featherweight title

PA:Press Association Images

On Saturday at the Copper Box Arena in London, Gervonta Davis will defend his world super-featherweight title

Few would bet against Gervonta Davis making a successful first defence, such is his awesome power and boxing skills

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Few would bet against Gervonta Davis making a successful first defence, such is his awesome power and boxing skills

Mayweather has been promoting and training with Davis as he prepares for his billion dollar fight with UFC superstar Conor McGregor.

The multi-weight champ will be ringside on Saturday as Davis looks to extend his unbeaten record to 18 fights.

He has no concerns about staging his first title defence in the UK and says: “A real champ can fight anywhere. No worries.

“Walsh is a great fighter but I believe I’m on another level. I’m not overlooking him, but it is what it is.

Liam Walsh (right) may be the home favourite on Saturday, but he certainly won't be the bookies' favourite

Reuters

Liam Walsh (right) may be the home favourite on Saturday, but he certainly won’t be the bookies’ favourite

All eyes are on defending his super-featherweight world title, but Gervonta Davis will want to go on and add more belts to his stock

AP:Associated Press

All eyes are on defending his super-featherweight world title, but Gervonta Davis will want to go on and add more belts to his stock

“There will be a lot of excitement on Saturday night. I’m not looking for a knock-out, I’m looking to beat him for 12 rounds. But if the knock-out comes, we’ll take it.

“Floyd has been more hands-on for this camp than for any of my previous fights. He tells me that whatever what you put your mind to you can do in life.”

Like Mayweather, Davis puts his devilish good looks down to his boxing abilities.

“Hit and not be hit,” he laughs.

“Am I ready for Saturday? I was born ready.”

GERVONTA DAVIS reveals how Floyd Mayweather has helped his boxing care



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