BBN’s Oscar Pick previews Ohara Davies vs Ismael Barroso, taking place this Sunday morning in the UK
Ohara Davies and his team have been Stateside for weeks, diligently preparing for the biggest fight of his 10-year career
DAZN’s 2024 opener will feature hardworking Ohara ‘Two Tanks’ Davies (25-2, 18KO) against Venezuelan veteran Ismael Barroso (24-4-2, 22KO) as chief support to Vergil Ortiz Jr., who returns to Vegas at super welterweight.
The contest is for the WBA interim super lightweight title, taking place in The Theater at Virgin Hotels this Saturday, January 6.
Both fighters are on the brink of a world title shot in boxing’s red-hot division, with the winner putting himself next in line for the WBA champ, Rolando Romero.
Since the Brit’s last defeat to Jack Catterall back in 2018, which came after a harsher beating from Josh Taylor during the preceding year, 31-year-old Davies has racked up several impressive wins over a host of domestic-level operators.
The rebuild began when he fought his way through Sky Sport’s Golden Contract Tournament, beating the likes of Jeff Ofori and then, in the final, a tough and well-schooled Tyrone McKenna who, following his gallant performance against Lewis Crocker, only recently called it quits.
It was Davies’ last performance, however, that reminded fans of his destructive power, as the Londoner stopped Lewis Ritson in the 9th round with a sickening body shot.
While this run will convince many fans that the Brit is capable of doing the business with relative ease, his opponent, even at the age of 40, seems to have enough left in the tank to make it a difficult assignment.
British fight fans will remember two-time world title contender Barroso from his brace of bouts with Kevin Mitchell and Anthony Crolla when, in the first matchup, the Venezuelan stopped his ageing opponent in the 5th round.
But against Crolla, a body shot in the 7th stanza was enough to take care of Barroso who, struggling to keep up with the pace, suffered more from exhaustion than pain.
Yet now, Barroso comes off one of his career-best performances against Romero – a fight that saw him up on the scorecards after dropping his opponent in the 3rd round.
This was before he hit the canvas himself in the 9th round, which led to a controversial stoppage from the referee with Barroso still returning fire.
The prospect of facing a southpaw, though, might be of greater concern for Davies, with his two professional defeats handed to him by lefties and arguably his toughest win, against McKenna, being a constant battle to keep his lead foot on the outside.
But Barroso does not fight like a traditional slick-southpaw; he barely even throws counterpunches.
Against Romero, the Venezuelan led with ample backhands but scarcely found success, as he often fell short by recklessly lunging into range.
This is where Davies can exploit his opponents’ weaknesses, by stepping back and finding an opening to whip in one of his signature hooks to the body.
The stoppage is then likely to come in the later rounds, once Barroso has taken sufficient punishment to slow his senior legs down.
But regardless of who comes out on top, the fight will almost certainly provide an exciting spectacle for fans, with both fighters carrying enough power to put the other down at any given moment, as a combined 40 KOs from 49 victories will testify.
After a 10-year career with more highs and lows than many others in his field have had to endure, Hackney’s hardworking Davies is so close to enjoying the fruits of his hard labour.