Davis vacates title to move up to lightweight

Gervonta "Tank" Davis, one of boxing's most explosive young fighters, grew tired of waiting for a major fight at junior lightweight so he has vacated his world title to move up to the lightweight division, where he aims to win a belt in a second weight division.

"I just want to move up and try to win more belts, basically make myself one of the top guys," Davis told ESPN on Friday. "So I think it was best for me to move up and try to get one of them belts. If not, I'm comfortable fighting at 130 [pounds]. I can actually come back down and fight at 130.

"But right now it was frustrating not being able to get big fights at 130. So I'll move up and see who I can get at 135. If I can't get anyone at 135 or if I win a belt, and there's a big opportunity to fight with someone at 130, I'd do that."

Two-time world titlist Davis (22-0, 21 KOs), who at 24 was the youngest American to hold a top-tier belt until relinquishing it a few days ago, has stormed through both of his opponents this year. He destroyed former junior featherweight world titlist Hugo Ruiz, a late replacement for the injured Abner Mares, in the first round on Feb. 9 in Carson, California.

Then, in a mandatory title defense, Davis made a triumphant Baltimore homecoming on July 27 and crushed Ricardo Nunez in a second-round knockout victory in his second defense.

The hard-hitting southpaw had not fought at home since his fourth professional fight in 2013. Davis' defense against Panama's Nunez was the first time that a Baltimore native had a hometown title defense since Harry Jeffra defended the featherweight world title there in 1940. Davis-Nunez was also the first world title bout in Baltimore in 49 years, since June 1970 when Hall of Fame light heavyweight champion Bob Foster stopped Mark Tessman in the 10th round.

Davis, who sold out the Royal Farms Arena for the fight with Nunez, said he made weight for the bout comfortably and that he is not moving up over weight issues, although missing weight caused him to be stripped of his first world title.

He said he did not decide to move up in weight until after the fight.

"My main goal was just try to look good [against Nunez]," Davis said. "My mind wasn't on moving up to 135. The time I have issues making weight is because of me. It's nothing like I'm too big [for the division]."

He said he simply wanted to win another title in another weight division. He should be in position soon. The WBA, whose belt Davis held, has reclassified him as its No. 1 contender at lightweight in the new September rankings.

"I want to be in position to fight for a belt. So if I can get one of the champions [at lightweight] or get someone that would line me up to get a belt then I'm cool with that," Davis said. "I'm open to fight whoever."

Currently, pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko rules at lightweight, where he added the third of the four major titles by winning a vacant belt against Luke Campbell on Aug. 31. Early next year, Lomachenko is likely to fight for the undisputed title against the winner of an expected Dec. 14 fight between titleholder Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez Jr.

Davis said he would be paying attention to how that situation plays out.

"Lomachenko is definitely one of the top opponents for me at 130 or 135. I believe it will happen, but it got to be at the right time," Davis said of a tough fight to make, because he is with Premier Boxing Champions and fights on Showtime and Lomachenko is with Top Rank and fights on ESPN.

There has also been much back and forth between Davis and junior lightweight titlist Tevin Farmer, with both sides talking tough and throwing out supposed offers. But the politics of fighting on different broadcast platforms -- Farmer fights on DAZN -- have made it daunting. Davis said that is up to the promoters to work out.

"I'm willing to fight Tevin. I'm willing to fight anyone they put in front of me," Davis said. "That particular fighter and that situation is making it hard because you got two promoters going back and forth."

There's a good chance that Davis' next fight, either late this year or in January, will come against former unified featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-2, 18 KOs), the former Cuban Olympic gold medalist who knocked out former junior lightweight titlist Roman "Rocky" Martinez in the second round on the Davis-Nunez undercard. Gamboa's presence on Davis' undercard was no accident, although he is not a lock to be Davis' next foe.

"There were talks about me fighting him. They put him on my undercard and I actually watched the fight and he looked good," Davis said. "He's definitely another opponent I'd like to fight and if I get a chance to have him on my résumé that's great for me."