Gervonta Davis moving up to face Yuriorkis Gamboa in lightweight bout

Gervonta "Tank" Davis, who vacated his junior lightweight world title in September, will be back in the ring going for another belt in a heavier weight division in his next fight.

Davis will take on Yuriorkis Gamboa for a vacant secondary lightweight world title on Dec. 28 in the main event of a Showtime-televised card (9 p.m. ET) at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, which has not hosted a notable boxing event in years, the network and Mayweather Promotions announced Friday.

Jean Pascal, who on Oct. 8 was elevated from an interim titleholder to secondary titlist, will make his first defense against former titleholder Badou Jack in the co-feature. Dmitry Bivol's elevation to "super" light heavyweight titleholder status opened the secondary belt for Pascal.

The fight between Davis, one of boxing's most explosive young fighters, and former unified featherweight titlist Gamboa does not come as a surprise. When Baltimore's Davis knocked out Ricardo Nunez in a junior lightweight title defense in a homecoming fight July 27, Gamboa knocked out former junior lightweight world titlist Roman "Rocky" Martinez in the second round of the co-feature. The expectation going into that night's card was that Davis, a two-time junior lightweight titleholder, and Gamboa would meet next if both won.

"We're looking forward to lighting up the city of Atlanta with a spectacle headlined by the most exciting fighter in boxing, Gervonta Davis, taking on a seasoned and fearless warrior, Yuriorkis Gamboa," Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said. "Gervonta spends a lot of time in Atlanta, and he wanted to bring his talents to his second home, where he plans to put on yet another electrifying performance.

"We also have Badou Jack, who's ready to get back in the ring after some time off. He has an opportunity before him to be back on the big stage and become champion for the third time. I'm confident that Jack is ready to get back in the mix, and he will come ready to go to war against Jean Pascal come fight night."

Davis (22-0, 21 KOs), a 24-year-old southpaw, has had some trouble making the 130-pound junior lightweight limit -- he lost his first belt on the scale in 2017 for failing to make weight -- but he told ESPN last month that weight was not the reason he was vacating his second title. It was because of an inability to land a major fight, although Gamboa, who also has boxed at 130 pounds, would have fought him in that division if Davis had wanted to defend his title.

Nonetheless, Davis is moving up in weight with a chance to win a title in a second division.

"I'm excited to head south for the holiday season and put on a great show for the city of Atlanta on Dec. 28," Davis said. "It's been a long time since a boxing fight of this magnitude has come to the city, and I'm proud to be able to give lots of excitement to a city where I've spent a lot of my time.

"Some of the greatest boxers in the Hall of Fame have won titles in multiple weight divisions, and I'm no different. I expect as much success at 135 pounds as I had at 130 pounds. Yuriorkis Gamboa is a respected name in boxing and has achieved high levels of success in both the Olympics [as a 2004 gold medalist] and as a professional. I expect him to bring out the best in me, and l will be ready for it."

Gamboa (30-2, 18 KOs), 37, a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, is a few years past his best days, but he has notched four wins in a row and is appreciative of another chance to win a world title.

"I am blessed to have this amazing opportunity to become world champion once again," said Gamboa, who held a featherweight title from 2009 to 2011. "I have been hoping that this opportunity would be against Gervonta Davis, as well. I love and embrace the role of underdog that I have in this match because it will be the ultimate motivator. For the first time in my career, I will be involved in a high-profile bout in which I am not coming in at a disadvantage.

"Gervonta is an excellent fighter, but he has yet to face anyone like me. All the sacrifices I have made in my career and my life -- leaving Cuba and coming to this country to find a better life for my family -- will finally pay off on Dec. 28."

Pascal (34-6-1, 20 KOs), 36, of Montreal, was viewed by many as a long-faded former light heavyweight world champion when he pulled an enormous upset on Aug. 3, winning an eighth-round technical decision over unbeaten Marcus Browne to take his interim belt.

Pascal, since elevated in status, will be making his first defense against Jack, who had lost the same belt by unanimous decision to Browne in January.

"After I took this belt from Marcus Browne, I asked my team to get me back in the ring before the end of the year, and they delivered," Pascal said. "This is going to be a fight you don't want to miss. Everybody knows I come to fight. I'm a warrior, and it's the same thing for Badou. We both have proven to be boxers that want to fight the best in the world. Now we're fighting each other, so you know it's going to be fireworks."

Jack (22-2-3, 13 KOs), 35, a Sweden native fighting out of Las Vegas, is a former super middleweight and light heavyweight world titlist. When he lost to Browne, he was badly hampered by a severe cut. The vertical gash in the center of Jack's forehead from an accidental head-butt in the seventh round was one of the worst cuts seen in the ring in years. The gruesome cut bled profusely until the final bell, and Jack lost a unanimous decision. Jack needed around 100 stitches to close the gaping wound -- about 30-plus apiece on three different layers of skin. Jack said he is now healed and ready to go.

"It feels great to be back, and I'm looking forward to putting on another exciting performance," Jack said. "I always fight to make sure my family lives a comfortable lifestyle and to secure my legacy, but I'm just as motivated to represent and fight for children across the globe that my foundation helps.

"Expect to see me stronger, smarter and more experienced on Dec. 28. I'm looking forward to getting my belts back and becoming a three-time world champion. I respect Pascal and consider him a friend, but business is business."