BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Sunday night, Baltimore is back on boxing’s biggest stage.

West Baltimore native Gervonta “Tank” Davis headlines Showtime’s pay-per-view Main Event from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, defending his WBA Secondary Lightweight Title against Issac “Pitbull” Cruz.

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His longtime trainers gave Rick Ritter an exclusive sit-down interview over the weekend, before the fight.

The last time Gervonta Davis was in the ring, it was a sight we’re used to seeing: another devastating punch that stopped the fight. It’s his lethal uppercut punch that’s quickly become his forte & helped elevate him to the status of one of boxing’s most polarizing figures.

“We’re at that level. He’s that guy now” says longtime trainer Coach Calvin Ford, who runs the Upton Boxing Center in West Baltimore. “His star status is getting bigger. He walks down the street and everyone knows who he is. That’s major.”

You don’t become “the” guy without “the” team behind you.

Tank’s corner is certainly one of the best in boxing. Two guys who have been with him since he was a kid: Coaches Calvin Ford & Kenny Ellis.

“This is a big fight & on a Sunday. You don’t really see that, a huge fight on a Sunday night. It’s major for him” says Ford.

“I think camp has gone well for him, both mentally and physically. Tank is looking good. He’s motivated and ready to put on a show” says Ellis.

No one knows Gervonta better than these two guys – both who’ve served as father figures to Davis over the years. They run the Upton Boxing Center in West Baltimore, a gym that’s changing the lives of youngsters all throughout Baltimore City.

So much so, it’s not just Tank representing Baltimore on Sunday night. Coach Kenny Ellis’ daughter, Mia Ellis who is 2-0 with 2 knockouts and Malik Warren, who is 5-0 with 5 knockouts, are both on Sunday night’s undercard.

“The fact that your daughter is on the undercard & Malik Warren is on the undercard – it’s putting the city on the map right now, showing this superstar level is real for all kids, right?” asks Ritter.

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“It’s a dream come true, man. I am so proud of them. We got kids coming behind them too, looking up to them and they see that it can be done” says Ellis.

“It’s bigger than boxing to tell you the truth,” says Ford. “We’re trying to build a family-oriented place to get the kids, to where they want to go.”

This duo is doing exactly that, with Gervonta leading the way in the ring.

Now it’s the aggressive Cruz who is in Tank’s way.

“He’s going to be determined to actually do what it takes to get Tank off the throne but guess what? I know my guy. He’s the best. He’s ready. I know my team. I have the best team in the corner” says Ford.

“It won’t get past round 3” laughs Ellis. “Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t get past round 1. Don’t buy any popcorn, get cotton candy. You can eat it faster” jokes Ellis.

While the confidence in this team is evident, the message for all of the little kids in Baltimore watching Sunday night is just as clear.

“Believe in your dreams. Chase your dreams. Put people around you that are going to stay on you and push you to achieve your goals in life” says Ford.

“This is proof that there is hope and if you want it, you can get it. You just have to put your work in. We’re all just getting started” says Ellis.

As far as what 2022 holds for Team Gervonta Davis, both Ford & Ellis say you can expect more knockouts & some “Godzilla fights.”

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“We’re going to get a couple of those Godzilla fights. You heard it here first. That’s what I’m calling them. Not mega-fights, Godzilla fights. You can’t duck them because Tank is asking for them. Everyone wants a piece of him & he knows what it means to be that star now” says Ford.

Rick Ritter