Gervonta Davis‘ last fight was stopped at 2:40 in the sixth round against Leo Santa Cruz.
The vicious uppercut sent the 32-year-old former champion crumbling to the canvas.
It was a devastating blow, delivered by a 26-year-old champion desperately seeking an impressive win that would make him a superstar. Within hours, footage of the knockdown had gone viral. Even with two months left in the year, pundits across the globe were declaring it the unquestioned best knockout of 2020.
Although it was a moment that won’t soon be forgotten by the boxing world, the man who delivered the blow is yet to achieve the status he so desperately seeks.
Sure, anyone involved in the sport of boxing is aware of the power of Gervonta “Tank” Davis but that is not the recognition he seeks.
Gervonta Davis desires to be in the same realm his mentor and promoter, Floyd Mayweather, once occupied. He wants to be a champion so big that his recognition spreads into pop culture and is recognizable to those with only a casual interest in sports. He’s got a long way to go.
Gervonta Davis has publicly called out Devin Haney
Since his sixth-round stoppage of Leo Santa Cruz on October 31st, Gervonta Davis has kept his name in the news for other reasons. Most notably, he’s engaged in a verbal sparring match with fellow American Devin Haney.
Haney is the 21-year-old current WBC lightweight champion of the world. He had a less than impressive performance on November 7th against a 38-year-old Yuriorkis Gamboa from Cuba. Haney promised the boxing world an exciting knockout.
Instead, he delivered a 12 round unanimous decision against a fighter who was clearly past his prime and collecting one of the last decent paydays of his career. Davis, in what was clearly an attempt to bait Haney into a response, went on record saying that his daughter hits harder than the champion.
From the outside looking in, it’s not too far fetched to wonder if Floyd Mayweather and The Money Team put Gervonta Davis up to this to build interest in a potential main event between himself and Haney.
After all, it was Floyd who publicly criticized Manny Pacquiao after each of his fights for years until the two of them were finally able to work out terms to meet in the ring.
It wouldn’t be the first time this tactic was applied in boxing and it certainly won’t be the last. The problem with using this tactic against Haney though is that it doesn’t help progress Gervonta Davis towards becoming a household name.
Haney isn’t known outside of boxing circles and only true fight fans would order a pay-per-view to see the two Americans go at it. If Tank wants to become global, he’ll have to do it against a fight much more notoriety than the one he’s currently chasing.
Tank needs to decide which weight class to fight in
The fact that Tank is chasing Haney at all raises a point of consideration. When is he going to move up from fighting at 130 lbs. and begin fighting at 135?
Gervonta Davis has struggled for years to make weight, even having to strip nude at his most recent weigh-in just to qualify. The fact is, it’s time for Davis to embrace the fact that he’s naturally bigger than the other fighters in the super featherweight division.
Part of the reason his punching power is so devastating in his weight class is that he’s always the naturally bigger man. With Gervonta Davis, it’s not a matter of a taller fighter who’s intentionally leaner than he would naturally be, the way Kelly Pavlik was back in the 2000s.
In his case, there’s a naturally stocky build, like Mike Tyson for example, which makes it easier for him to carry more weight than other fighters his height. It’s time for Gervonta Davis to move up in weight.
There are a lot of big fights out there to be made
The good news for Gervonta Davis is that once he does move up in weight, there are numerous big-name fighters for him to face. A simple move from super featherweight to lightweight puts him in the same weight class as the aforementioned Devin Haney, along with Teofimo Lopez and Vasyl Lomachenko.
For their part, Lopez and Lomachenko gave the boxing world a treat last month when the two of them locked horns in what was one of the best fights of the year. Lopez came out the victor, but both men had their moments during the fight, and they are without question the two best fighters in the division.
Even if Tank’s strategy works and he’s able to bait Haney into a fight, his work is far from over. If he really wants to become a household name he’s going to have to climb into the ring and face Teofimo of Vasyl.
Gervonta Davis can’t afford to wait if he wants to become a star
Recently, the CEO of The Money Team, Floyd Mayweather aired his grievances with the current state of affairs in boxing. His number one complaint was that there are too many belts and too many champions.
While it’s hard to argue against Floyd’s point, one could easily point to a solution: more unification bouts. The fact is, in the modern era, what Teofimo Lopez and Vasyl Lomachenko did has become far too rare. Both champions put their belts on the line and both men performed admirably.
The 80s was a golden era in boxing because fights like Aaron Pryor vs. Alexis Arguello, Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns actually happened. They weren’t just speculated about or delayed until both fighters were no longer in their prime and public interest had waned.
Gervonta Davis is only 26 years old and he’s in the prime of his career. There are several fighters in the lightweight division with big names and the boxing skills to match who would make great opponents for him.
We’ve seen a recent trend in boxing of fighters throwing caution to the wind and actually climbing into the ring against other guys who’s names carry weight. It’s a tribute to the courage of the fighters and the sport has been better for it.
This is what fight fans across the world want to see, and its the formula for how large pay-per-view fights are made. If Gervonta Davis wants to become a household name, he’s going to have to make sure he’s a part of it.