WBA ‘regular’ lightweight champion Gervonta Davis has agreed a fight with unbeaten contender Ryan Garcia. The pair will meet in Las Vegas next April, pending ‘Tank’ winning a tune-up fight in January. In a year blighted by boxing’s biggest names giving each other a wide berth, it is refreshing to see two of the best lightweights on the planet agree to fight.
There is still the detectable stench of modern boxing, with the fight taking place at a catchweight of 136lbs. The move seems entirely pointless when Davis holds a belt at lightweight, but there is some justification. Garcia has boxed above the 135lb limit in his last two bouts, while ‘Tank’ has previously held a title up at super lightweight. It’s a shame this bout will exist outside normal boxing parameters but, after a meagre harvest of superfights, we should be glad it’s happening at all.
What does the fight mean for both men? It’s certainly a risky fight, with both staking unbeaten records and perceptions that they represent the future of the sport. Garcia is the one taking the step up in class, with ‘Tank’ having won his first world title in 2017.
The pandemic, and a break to deal with mental health issues, have seen Garcia frozen in perpetual “next big thing” status for a number of years. ‘KingRy’ looked to have belatedly arrived on the world stage when he climbed off the canvas to halt former world title challenger Luke Campbell in January 2021. But outside-ring issues kept him on the sidelines until April of this year. He has racked up victories over Emmanuel Tagoe and Javier Fortuna since.
In the most stacked division in boxing, ‘The Flash’ has been accused of avoiding the biggest names. While the likes of Teofimo Lopez, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Devin Haney and George Kambosos Jr have carved out history fighting each other, Garcia has leant heavily on his social media popularity while fighting opponents several rungs below him. But the Californian is still only 24, and his move up in class seems to be arriving at the perfect time.
Davis might not be the perfect opponent, though. ‘Tank’ has rolled over 27 opponents, knocking out 25 of them and picking up world trinkets at three weights. He has made mincemeat of former and reigning champions like Leo Santa Cruz, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Jose Pedraza on his way to the summit. Garcia was long overdue a fight against a championship-level competitor. But ‘KingRy’ might regret choosing this one in particular.
While Davis’ dubious WBA ‘regular’ prize is not expected to be on the line, there are real rewards here for the winner. If the victor can bring himself to shed an extra pound, then there is a wealth of options at lightweight. Two-weight king Shakur Stevenson has just joined the fray at 135. Undisputed champion Haney and Lomachenko are set to meet next year. Garcia or Davis against the winner of that would set pulses racing.
This is what boxing is all about. Two big name fighters, one fearsome and one flashy, going at it in a true clash of styles. It’s cliche to point it out, but this is truly a fight where the fans are the real winner. After the likes of Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua, Conor Benn vs Chris Eubank Jr and Terence Crawford have fallen by the wayside for various reasons, we need ‘Tank’ vs Garcia. At least there will be one card in 2023 featuring two fighters people actually want to watch against each other.