Paulie Malignaggi sounds off on Gervonta Davis being ‘upped’ to WBA lightweight champion

Gervonta Davis is now the WBA lightweight world champion. 

Originally the secondary champ, Davis was elevated to full champion as of January 1 with the WBA appearing to have removed Devin Haney as their champion.

Davis is now the WBA ‘super’ lightweight champion as opposed to the ‘regular’ champion. Haney’s removal was no surprise, as he outstandingly defeated WBC junior welterweight world champion Regis Prograis in his first fight at 140lbs. Paulie Malignaggi,on ProBox TV exclusive programming, gave his thoughts on the elevation of Davis as a champion.

“I’ve been saying [Gervonta] Davis has only had a major world title at 130lbs, and he has been playing pretend since then,” said Malignaggi. “As there is a term in Italian organized crime now he got upped. They upped him. They gave him his button, they gave him his belt.”

“He was a secondary world champion in the lightweight division because the WBA has a primary [world champion] and a secondary champion. I don’t like [using] the super and regular [terms], because I think it is corny.”

Davis, who recently changed his name to Abdul Wahid, won the secondary WBA lightweight belt with a 12th-round knockout of Yuriorkis Gamboa in December 2019. Since that fight, Davis has fought in an assortment of weight classes ranging from 130-to-140lbs. 

“I think [the WBA] saw how Devin Haney looked against Regis Prograis, and said that guy is never going to fight at lightweight again, that guy is huge and decided to make their move,” continued Malignaggi.

The title picture at lightweight is now murky. Shakur Stevenson is the WBC lightweight world champion. Davis holds the WBA lightweight title. Vasiliy Lomachenko-George Kambosos could be on tap for the IBF lightweight title in Australia later this year. With the WBO lightweight title, Denys Berinchyk is the highest-ranked fighter at No. 2, Isaac Cruz sits at three, Angel Fierro resides at four, and William Zepeda at five.

Davis fought twice in 2024, scoring two knockout wins, firstly over Hector Luis Garcia, and the other over Ryan Garcia. The Garcia fight was in April and also marked the last time he fought. 

“This is not something that hasn’t happened before, and has also happened with good fighters, solid fighters that have gone on to still do good things,” Malignaggi added. “I expect Gervonta Davis to remain a star-level fighter in the division.”