Gervonta Davis - It's Time to Step Up
By Steven Weinberg | Contributing Writer and Photographer
Published: June 27, 2019
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On July 27, WBA Super World Super Featherweight champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis (21-0, 20 KOs) is set to face mandatory challenger, Ricardo Nunez (21-2).
All but one of Nunez’s previous 23 fights were in his native Panama, with the other in Mexico. Nunez’s last opponent had dropped his four previous matches and had a losing record of 22-30-3 before being knocked out by Nunez.
Despite being ranked #2 by the WBA (and also behind WBA World Champion Andrew Cancio and WBA Gold Champion Joseph Diaz), no one in the world expects Nunez to seriously test Davis.
The same can be said for Davis’ previous three opponents. Davis knocked out Mexico’s Hugo Ruiz (39-5) in one round in February 2019.
Ruiz had fought 21 days earlier and took the fight on 10 days’ notice after Abner Mares pulled out due to an eye injury. Had Mares not been injured, he certainly would have been Davis’s most formable opponent to date.
In April 2018, Davis won his version of the vacant WBA belt by devastating Argentina’s Jesus Cuellar (29-3) in three rounds.
Cuellar, coming up from featherweight, was knocked down three times before being TKO’d, and generally thought of as too small for Tank with no chance at all.
It was a showcase fight for Davis and a way for him to regain a belt after losing the IBF Super Featherweight strap for failing to make weight in his previous outing – an eighth-round TKO of another undersized fighter, Francisco Fonseca of Nicaragua (24-2-1).
The biggest name Davis has ever faced was Puerto Rico’s Jose Pedraza (26-2) back in January 2017, for the IBF Super Featherweight championship.
Once again, Davis thoroughly dominated – winning five rounds of six on all of the judges’ scorecards, before knocking Pedraza out in the seventh. This was Davis’s first title and let everyone know he was a force to be reckoned with.
In December 2018, nearly two years after his loss to Davis, Pedraza lost again, this time to pound-for-pound fighter Vasiliy Lomachenko (13-1).
Because Lomachenko beat Pedraza on points, whereas Davis knocked Pedraza out, Davis believes his stature in the boxing world should be elevated. As a result, Davis began calling out Lomachencko.
The truth is, it is time that Davis steps up his level of competition. Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Davis’s promoter, has repeatedly said that Davis is too young and not ready to fight Lomachenko.
Publicly Mayweather Promotions has been very vocal about making Davis into a pay-per-view star, and a loss to Lomachenko may derail those plans. But by also saying Davis isn’t ready for Lomachenko, his promoters are acknowledging that Davis is not as great as Davis thinks he is.
WBC Featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (30-1) has called out Davis, saying he will move up in weight for the fight. Considering Davis’ success with smaller fighters, he should welcome Russell’s challenge.
On paper, the match will undoubtedly be a promotional success - both are from Maryland, both are champions, and it will be an interesting stylistic match-up.
Ellerbe has even said he’s interested in making the fight. Russell, on the other hand, has said he has received heard nothing but silence from Mayweather Promotions.
Instead of fighting in the ring, Davis has been fighting on Twitter for nearly two years with IBF World Super Feather Weight champion, Tevin Farmer (29-4).
The barbs back and forth have been typical pre-fight trash talk, with Davis recently promising to call out Farmer after he wins on July 27.
Eddie Hearn, Farmer’s co-promoter, quickly pointed out via Twitter that he has offered Mayweather Promotions three opportunities to make the Davis v. Farmer fight, and like Russell, have been met with silence.
Davis had no retort to Hearn. Now, we’ll have to wait until after July 27th to see if Davis calls out Farmer and at least indicates that he is serious about facing a worthwhile opponent.
Davis undoubtedly is a great fighter and will have a great career, and he is only 24 years old. We haven’t a clue how great he can be.
Moreover, herein lies the problem for Davis – he’s never truly been challenged. It looks like he’s not up for a challenge. At this rate, he will not become the pay-per-view star that Mayweather Promotions envisions.
It is easy to say, “Don’t question the Mayweather team; they obviously know what they’re doing.” The Money Team, however, has only been successful with one fighter – Floyd Mayweather.
No one knows if that success can be replicated with anyone else, let alone with Gervonta Davis. Unfortunately, with the way Davis’s career is going, we may never get to find out.
It is high time that Davis steps up his level of competition and show the world how great he can be.
(Featured Photo: Rosie Cohe/Showtime)