San Diego’s Pechanga Arena opted for love, not a war.
Now, Gervonta Davis’ World Boxing Assn. super-featherweight title defense against former three-division champion Abner Mares of Los Angeles on Feb. 9 will take place at StubHub Center.
Instead of a clash some have said could turn into a “Valentine’s Day Massacre,” the former San Diego Sports Arena will be occupied that night by Valentine’s Super Love Jam.
Characterized last week as a formality, Premier Boxing Champions boss Al Haymon failed to strike a deal with the arena to move the love-jam concert promoted by radio hall-of-fame disc jockey Art Laboe off the Saturday night date.
PBC officials looked to book San Diego because they were resistant to the idea of placing a third fight card in the Southland within less than six weeks’ time.
On Jan. 13, PBC will stage a super-middleweight title defense by champion Jose Uzcategui versus mandatory challenger Caleb Plant at L.A. Live’s Microsoft Theater.
On Feb. 16, WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 knockouts) of Los Angeles is also scheduled to fight in the Southland, defending his belt against Mexico’s Miguel Flores on Fox.
Showtime will televise the Feb. 9 meeting between Baltimore’s Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) and Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs).
“I wanted this fight and I want this challenge against Gervonta Davis,” Mares said. “I’m preparing well and I will add my fifth world title in my fourth weight class.”
Nicknamed “Tank” and promoted by Floyd Mayweather Jr., Davis, 24, is considered a strong favorite over Mares, 33, who lost by unanimous decision to Santa Cruz in June at Staples Center.
“I’m very excited to be showcased in my first main event in the U.S.,” Davis said in a Showtime statement. “I want to make a statement in this fight by putting on a tremendous performance against an experienced world champion like Abner Mares. I plan on showing everyone why I belong in pound-for-pound discussions and why I’m the most exciting champion in boxing today.”
Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza calls the bout “an intriguing matchup for both men at crucial points of their careers.
“Abner Mares has never backed down from a challenge, quietly building one of the strongest resumes in all of boxing while consistently delivering fight-of-the-year performances. In his first fight in the super-featherweight division, Abner will be facing one of the strongest, most talented and most exciting young champions in all of boxing. … Gervonta looks to continue his streak of 11 straight stoppages against the most experienced and accomplished opponent he has faced to date.”
Moving to the outdoor venue in Carson is a gamble, given winter weather and the woeful lack of ticket sales Dec. 8 when HBO staged its final card at the same venue with a slate that included women’s champions Cecilia Braekhus and Claressa Shields in separate fights.
In San Diego, meanwhile, the “Super Love Jam” show will feature artists from the 1970s and 1980s like the Manhattans, whose hits were “Kiss and Say Goodbye” and “Shining Star,” along with Rose Royce (“Car Wash”), the Delfonics (“Didn’t I Blow Your Mind”), the Chi-Lites (“Oh Girl”), Heatwave (“Always and Forever”) and headliner Zapp (“Doo Wa Ditty [Blow That Thing]”).