His promoter and friend is the recently retired pound-for-pound champ, Floyd Mayweather, and he’s known in some boxing circles as “Mini Mike Tyson.” His name is Gervonta Davis 18-0 (17) and he currently holds the IBF junior lightweight title. This past weekend he made his first title defense and destroyed the UK’s Liam Walsh in three-rounds. Walsh entered the bout 21-0 but he was no threat to Davis, who showed why he is viewed as a future star.
Davis is from West Baltimore and had a very tough upbringing. He started boxing at age five and his story is similar to many other past champions. In the ring he’s proven that he’s the real deal and he understands that winning is most important. He has deceptively quick hands, is harder to hit than he gets credit for, and carries two-hand fight altering power. He has an aggressive style that makes for action-packed bouts. Gervonta throws short, tight hooks and he can also lead with straight lefts and rights from his southpaw stance. In addition, his left uppercut is a tremendous set-up shot.
“It was just a matter of time before I got him. I used my boxing IQ tonight and picked my shots. When I connected I got him out of there. I’m still on the rise. I became a champion super-fast” said Davis after the bout.
Davis says he’s driven by becoming boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighter, but that won’t be easy. Because of his lack of height and reach, Gervonta is vulnerable to boxer-puncher types lurking within a couple pounds north of 130. For the fight with Walsh he didn’t make weight on his first try and there are a few whispers that his days at junior-lightweight are numbered. This adds to Mayweather’s conundrum of matching him right.
If we’ve learned anything about Mayweather, we learned the premium he placed on the “0” on the right side of his record. Think of it this way; the best fighter Mayweather defeated who was close to being outstanding and in his prime was Diego Corrales at junior lightweight, who entered the bout 33-0. A little over a year later Floyd fought Jose Luis Castillo. Most observers, along with HBO’s house judge Harold Lederman, saw Castillo as the winner. I remember watching the bout that night rooting for Mayweather, and then when the bell rang ending the fight, I said to my now ex-wife, “I wonder if they’ll toss the kid aside because he lost to a really good fighter.” Of course, this never became an issue because Floyd won the WBC title via a nicely wrapped unanimous decision gift. Had the decision gone against him, as most believe it should have, we would’ve never been introduced to the acronym “TBE.”
Floyd learned from two of the best ever, Oscar De La Hoya and Vince McMahon, when it comes to matching a fighter correctly along with how to market him. Mayweather knows it doesn’t matter what some write or what fans think or say……as long as the fighter can claim he’s never been beaten, his legend and persona will grow. And that will be Mayweather’s first line of thought when finding future opponents for Gervonta. When a fighter has the right people behind him/her, the rules that apply to others less fortunate don’t apply. Most fighters have to take a sizable risk for decent money, and if they lose that first HBO fight, they’re written off, usually, and then have to fight every killer in the division to get back in the money with another high profile bout.
However, if a fighter has, say, a Floyd Mayweather behind him, he can make really good money before becoming a big name. Since Davis stopped Walsh, I’ve seen it suggested that Gervonta should fight Vasyl Lomachenko, who currently holds the WBO title at 130. But that’s a pipe dream. We’ll never see Davis-Lomachenko, at least not at 130. And that’s good business for Davis because he’s not ready for Lomachenko.
Mayweather said immediately after Davis beat Walsh that he’s not interested in fighting other title holders. He continued, “we’re going to keep Gervonta busy and take one fight at a time.”
Mayweather often speaks in code. What he was really saying was “I don’t care what the fans want. Davis isn’t ready for Lomachenko yet and right now it’s not a monster fight. As long as I keep him undefeated, we’ll have leverage, and that’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to match Gervonta as if it were me fighting. I’m going to find name guys or ex-title holders for him, who are on the decline but still good enough that it can’t be said they’re a complete has-been. We will pad his record because I know how to do it and pull it off. When it is time to sell his ‘0’ it’ll be for a fortune.”
Floyd is keenly aware that it’s no big deal being ridiculed as a cherry-picker who won’t fight anyone who is a serious threat. That’s far better than fighting the threat and losing and then being written off by boxing fans. Gervonta Davis is in good hands and you better believe he’ll follow whatever Floyd tells him to do to a “T.”
Look for Davis to fight name guys (Santa Cruz, Frampton, Quigg, Mares, Valdez, Russell, Salido, Jo Jo Diaz and maybe Josh Warrington in the UK) who have little chance to beat him as he gets better and progresses. It may not be fun for boxing fans to watch Gervonta beat up guys like Francisco Vargas, but it’s good business, and Davis is being taught by one of the best. Yes, watching the managerial job Floyd will do with his best find, Gervonta Davis, will be intriguing to watch. Davis is stuck fighting at 130 for a while because it’s smart business and it’s crucial to keep him there.
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Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com