Junior lightweight titleholder Jose Pedraza, who was granted an exception from his mandatory defense, will face flashy Floyd Mayweather protégé Gervonta Davis on Jan. 14, the promoters told ESPN on Monday night.
Pedraza-Davis will be part of a Showtime-televised card headlined by the previously announced super middleweight world title unification fight between Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs) and James DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The site is locked in only if co-promoters Mayweather Promotions and DiBella Entertainment can secure an insurance policy approved by the New York State Athletic Commission that conforms to the recently implemented law that changed insurance standards for combat sports in the state. So far, there is no policy available to boxing promoters to buy so they can put on a boxing card in New York, which has not hosted a professional boxing event since Aug. 21.
Pedraza (22-0, 12 KOs), 27, of Puerto Rico, will be making the third defense of his 130-pound world title since he won the vacant belt by one-sided decision against Andrey Klimov in June 2015.
"I think it's a helluva fight, very dangerous, but it's a fight Pedraza wanted," promoter Lou DiBella said. "Davis has been screaming and yelling that he wanted a big fight, and he got what he wanted."
In order to make the fight, Pedraza had to secure an exception from the IBF allowing him to fight Davis rather than his mandatory challenger, England's Liam Walsh (21-0, 14 KOs), who became the mandatory by beating Klimov by near-shutout decision on Oct. 8.
Davis (16-0, 15 KOs), 22, of Baltimore, is an exceptionally fast and hard-hitting rising prospect who will be taking a huge step up in competition. Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said he and Mayweather believe he is ready.
"We feel very, very confident that Gervonta is going to win the fight, and we think that he's going to do it in spectacular fashion," Ellerbe said. "It's a tremendous opportunity, and he's ready to step up and seize the moment. This is something me and Floyd have been working on for some time."
Ellerbe initially tried to make a deal for Davis to challenge titleholder Jason Sosa for his version of the title, but that deal fell apart, so they pursued Pedraza.
"We tried to make the Sosa fight, but it didn't happen for a number of reasons," Ellerbe said. "We're excited to work with Lou. We have a tremendous card Jan. 14, and this fight is just part of it. Gervonta is a straight killer. He's a very good boxer, but he's also a tremendous puncher. He'll go into the fight fully prepared, and we expect him to bring that IBF championship home."
The card will mark the first time that Mayweather Promotions, which also represents Jack, will be promoting in New York, a place Mayweather never fought as an active boxer.
"Floyd has been wanting to bring a big event to New York and invade New York," Ellerbe said. "Mayweather Promotions invades New York. It's something we've been working on. We're very confident that everything will be worked out [with regard to the insurance issue]. Lou and his team have worked extremely hard, and Floyd has been very adamant that he wants to do anything in his power to make this happen."