Gervonta Davis stopped Ryan Garcia with an educated body shot in round seven of boxing’s biggest occasion of the year. It was a fight in which both men proved something. ‘Tank’ Davis proved that he really is everything we thought. An elite, untouchable supernova for a new generation. Garcia, meanwhile, demonstrated that there is toughness beneath his gleaming, made-for-Instagram exterior. He’s a warrior, that one.
Most of all, this catchweight headliner proved that discretion is not the better part of valour in pro boxing. The heavyweight champions and their most interesting contenders are avoiding each other. Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr have failed to stage the most obvious fight in boxing. Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev are being steered down separate paths at light heavyweight. Boxing is consistently failing to put on its biggest attractions. But Davis vs Garcia was all that and more.
Hopefully this electric Nevada night can serve as an example to the more gun-shy fighters out there. Garcia got beaten, quite brutally, but emerged with more credit than scorn. He’s lost his ‘0’ but the fact he took on a tough challenge and battled gamely means more than the majority of his 23 victories. Next time ‘KingRy’ fights, people will watch. Deontay Wilder experienced a similar rebirth after contesting an outstanding trilogy with Tyson Fury. He remains a pay-per-view attraction because he doesn’t shy away from a challenge, win or lose. Garcia looks set to walk the same path.
The next move for both men is intriguing. At the age of 24, it feels very likely Garcia will still make good on his promise. A world title is the only thing missing from his CV and his performance against Davis will have done little to harm those ambitions. With almost 10 million Instagram followers to his name, promoters are always going to want to leverage his popularity. Against 90% of fighters around lightweight, Garcia remains the A-side.
Davis has now cracked open the door to untold riches. Already a three-weight world champion going in, ‘Tank’ was yet to grasp mainstream stardom. Taking out a big name like Garcia in impressive fashion will have done the trick. If it’s big fights that Davis wants, he’s in the right place too. The lightweight division and surrounding districts play host to some of the best fighters in the sport.
Davis has won world title belts at super featherweight, lightweight and super lightweight. Given his age and body maturity, the latter two seem the best fit for him at this stage. Despite claiming belts across three weightclasses, ‘Tank’ is yet to reign as a unified or undisputed champion in any division. With Garcia behind him, that could be a sensible next move for the 28-year-old.
Undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney takes on legendary Ukrainian Vasiliy Lomachenko next month. The winner of this blockbuster attraction would make for a mouthwatering foe for Davis. ‘Tank’ currently holds the WBA ‘regular’ title. With that organisation finally taking steps to unify their secondary belts with the ‘super’ titles, of which Haney is the lightweight holder, could make this fight possible. No matter who wins Haney vs Lomachenko, a fight between the victor and Davis would be a pay-per-view bonanza.
Should Davis choose to return 147lb, where he lifted a WBA ‘regular’ strap in 2021, there is no shortage of options there for him. Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez face off for the former’s WBO title in June. It’s the sort of A-list attraction where even the loser would make a belting opponent for Davis. The same could be said for Jack Catterall. Taylor’s erstwhile nemesis has been out of the ring for a year, but returns in a tune-up against Darragh Foley next month. ‘El Gato’ would relish a big night Stateside against Gervonta Davis, you would have thought.
Usually after a big fight, there’s heavy talk of a rematch. One day it might be interesting to see Davis and Garcia get it on again. But that day is a little way off. Both are young in the context of modern boxing, where more fighters are peaking in their 30s. Davis should chase superfights while Garcia can rebuild. A second successive defeat for the latter could be a career-killer, and ‘Tank’ doesn’t look like losing any time soon. Keeping away from each other for three or four years could provide a far more seasoned, and closely-fought, match-up.
A boxing fan could get used to this. Two esteemed and popular fighters actually fighting each other, rather than feasting on those below them in the pecking order. As evidenced by the career options now open to both, these sort of bouts are not a disaster for the defeated. The risk is worth the reward and Davis will surely reap it. But Garcia too, like Wilder before him, will benefit from increased interest as well. ‘KingRy’ might have lost on the night, but everyone was a winner where this fight was concerned.
*18+ | BeGambleAware