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.”
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.
For all the latest BOXING news, gossip, results and live fight commentary, visit our topic page
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.
Hackers KO Amir
Boxer Amir Khan and wife Faryal rush to Dubai police station after ‘sick’ cyber attack
FAST & FURY-OUS
Tyson Fury given £150,000 Range Rover.. the day after giving pal his Ferrari California
Tyson Fury ‘caught driving and using his mobile phone by the reflection of his SUNGLASSES’
‘ready to fight whoever’
Anthony Joshua already back training for next title defence.. despite not knowing who opponent will be
GGG will retain his grip on the middleweight boxing throne… but Canelo Alvarez will push him all the way
EU BETTER BELIEVE IT
Chris Eubank Jr’s cousin Harlem set for professional debut as famous boxing name carries on going
Boxing star Nicola Adams reveals: ‘Marlen Esparza was my arch rival… now she’s my partner and I’ll never fight her’
David Haye makes great progress with Achilles injury after throwing punches for the first time in two months
WHO ARE YA?
Who is Marlen Esparza? Nicola Adams’ girlfriend and a flyweight boxer – everything you need to know
THAT KHAN BE ARRANGED
Amir Khan in talks with Kell Brook and Manny Pacquiao about taking one on in a superfight this year
Billy Joe Saunders wants the real Tyson Fury to stand up… and claims the world would fall in love with him
LAS VEGAS STRIP
Floyd Mayweather hurls wads of cash around at his own strip club Girl Collection in Las Vegas as boxer unveils latest promotion
NO WHYTE ON THE NIGHT
Dillian Whyte pulls out of fight against Mariusz Wach after picking up foot injury in training
‘mortifying’ sex tape leak
Amir Khan’s shame as long-rumoured ‘cheating sex tape filmed weeks after his wedding’ is leaked
When is Kell Brook vs Errol Spence Jr, what TV channel is the fight on and where will it take place?
When is Liam Walsh vs Gervonta Davis’ IBF world-title fight? Undercard, tickets, venue and TV info
Wladimir Klitschko takes holiday with Hayden Panettiere to decide on either Anthony Joshua rematch or retirement, reveals his manager
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”