Gervonta Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) made Rolando Romero pay for his trash-talking with a devastating sixth-round knockout, on Saturday night.
‘Tank’ had to wait an extra six months to silence his rival after their December bout was cancelled due to legal issues, but made the most of the opportunity once it was finally presented, defending his WBA “Regular” lightweight belt in the process.
It was a return to form for the Baltimore native who had been extended more than ever before in a harder than expected bout with Isaac Cruz, which Davis won by unanimous decision, last year.
The win over ‘Rolly’ was the last bout of Davis’ contract with Mayweather Promotions. ‘Tank’ had stated that he would likely move on, proclaiming ahead of his clash with Romero: “I feel as though it’s my career, so I need to be the one that controls my career.” However, Davis appeared to have change of heart, declaring in the post-fight press conference: “Still Mayweather Promotions, baby.”
Davis’ decision on whether to resign or not will have serious implications for his career trajectory. When represented by Floyd Mayweather’s promotional outfit, Davis almost exclusively fought boxers affiliated with Premier Boxing Champions. Historically, PBC have been reticent to work with other promoters. Currently, the PBC roster at 135lbs is a little light and Davis has previously faced the two best boxers in their ranks; in Cruz and Romero.
The 27-year-old may well extend his deal with Mayweather Promotions, but a single line in a press conference does not constitute an official announcement. For the time being, let’s consider Davis to be Schrödinger’s Boxer, simultaneously under promotional contract and a free agent.
Here are the five best options available for Davis to face next:
Ryan Garcia (22-0, 18 KOs)
Arguably, the most lucrative fight available to Davis. Garcia is a polarising figure amongst the curmudgeonly, middle-aged contingent of boxing fans. Some see him as style over substance; an over-hyped pretender who’s protected status exceeds that of the giant panda. Others view ‘KingRy’ as an exciting prospect, that while flawed, has plenty of time to improve. Regardless of which camp you fall in, what you cannot be deny is that Garcia is popular.
Garcia’s fan base should translate in to strong pay-per-view sales. Garcia was ringside to witness Davis’ devastating finish to the fight, and left $20,000 lighter after placing a bet on Romero to win with, unified welterweight champion, Errol Spence Jr. Davis’ power seemingly did not discourage Garcia from facing ‘Tank’ as he tweeted in the aftermath: ‘Let me handle business on July 16th. I’m going to get Tank, he was creaming the whole fight I’m next so let it be.. December, let’s get it.” The “business” Garcia has to take care of is Javier Fortuna, who represents a test for ‘KingRy’ but one he is expected to pass.
Afterwards, there should be no barriers preventing a clash between the two hard-hitting lightweights, especially if Davis is free of promotional ties. Of course, it is equally possible that this could end up being reminiscent of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, who spent years calling each other out, before finally facing off when they were past their respective primes. The risk-to-reward ratio could be right for Davis on this one.
Vasyl Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs)
Signing with Top Rank would make a lot of sense for Davis. Bob Arum’s outfit will co-promote the undisputed lightweight champion, regardless of the winner this weekend. Josh Taylor, who holds three-quarters of the super-lightweight titles fights under the Top Rank banner also, given that Davis previously dipped his toe in the waters at 140lbs to halt Mario Barrios in the 11th round, that may be an appealing future option for ‘Tank’.
Unified super-featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson appears to have the frame to move up to lightweight. A clash between Davis and Stevenson could be the biggest fight in the sport in 18 months’ time, given Arum’s fondness of letting fights marinate, there is little chance of that bout happening next, even if he has Davis under contract. Teofimo Lopez would be another option down the line, but he has not returned to the ring since suffering a surprise loss at the hands of Kambosos, that is another match-up that would be given time to grow.
As previously stated, Haney is expected to defeat the Australian and is required give Kambosos an immediate rematch if he is successful, making it likely that Davis could not face Haney this year. If, and it is a big if, Davis was to sign with Top Rank, a logical first fight would be against Vasyl Lomachenko. ‘The Matrix’ is a three-weight world champion with dazzling skills, but appeared vary of Lopez’s power when they met in 2020. That factor could give Davis the edge in a potential clash as his combination of heavy-hands and perfect timing has proved to be devastating.
A cautious Lomachenko negates a lot of what makes him great. The Ukrainian has demonstrated a willingness to face the best available fighters since his second bout, when he challenged for the WBO featherweight title and would be unlikely to shy away from an all-southpaw showdown with Davis. If the fight were to come to fruition, it would give ‘Tank’ the opportunity to score a win over a man that was universally ranked in the top five of pound-for-pound lists less than two years ago. Davis has often faced criticism for the level of opposition he has fought, but a win over Lomachenko would silence the doubters.
Rolando Romero (14-1, 12 KOs)
Yes, the first bout ended conclusively. No, a second fight is not required. However, this is boxing; a sport with a long history of unnecessary rematches. Romero started the campaign for an opportunity to avenge his defeat immediately, he stated in the post-fight press conference: “I won all six rounds. I won every moment of that fight. I exposed him and we need to run that shit back.”
How you win a round in which you are knocked down heavily and are deemed unfit to continue by the referee, I’ll never know. Given that certain high-profile fighters believe that the earth is flat or that Bill Gates microchipped the majority of the population through the Covid-19 vaccine, it is not the most ridiculous thing a boxer has said this year. I guess, he’s done his own research. The fact that they sold out the Barclays Centre is testament to the interest the bout generated.
Would the competitive, if cagey, nature of the first fight entice people to watch again? Probably not, but I suspect there will always be a market for watching ‘Rolly’ get knocked out. Romero plays the bad guy brilliantly, and regardless of if people are there to cheer you on or praying you get stopped, they pay the same. If ‘Tank’ resigns with Mayweather Promotions, the rematch could be viable, particularly if Romero’s disinformation campaign is successful.
Isaac Cruz (23-2-1, 16 KOs)
Cruz enhanced his reputation exponentially with an impressive performance against Davis, despite losing by unanimous decision. The fight was competitive, but the right man won and, for a change, the scorecards were fair. However, Cruz landed punches on Davis with greater regularity than anyone before. Davis was hindered by a damaged left hand which forced him to complete six rounds utilising his right exclusively. Cruz continued to build momentum in his next fight when he halted Yuriorkis Gamboa in five rounds, an opponent Davis previously stopped in the 12th.
‘Pitbull’ will likely believe he has improved and would fancy his chances in a rematch. Conversely, ‘Tank’, free of injury, would be confident of securing the knockout which eluded him during their first fight. If Davis resigns with Mayweather Promotions and the policy of matching ‘Tank’ with PBC fighters continues, then Cruz is likely the best available option. Jose Valenzuela is a fast-rising PBC lightweight, but that fight could be significantly bigger in a year’s time, especially if ‘Rayo’ can register a win over someone like Rolando Romero in the meantime.
George Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOS)
The current disputed undisputed lightweight world champion. Does that statement read as oxymoronic? Yes, welcome to the world of professional boxing. The Australian shocked Teofimo Lopez, in November of last year, to claim the IBF, WBA, WBO and WBC Franchise titles. One of these is not like the others.
The WBC somehow conspired to further complicate the convoluted title landscape with the introduction of its Franchise strap. The WBC world title is in the possession of Devin Haney. Confused? You should be. When Lopez defeated Vasyl Lomachenko to win the aforementioned titles, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman, claimed that Lopez was the undisputed champion, while also referring to Haney as a world champion – the mental gymnastics the human mind is capable of when there are sanctioning fees at stake is astounding.
Anyway, this Sunday we will finally get clarity in the murky waters of the 135lbs division as Kambosos faces Haney to crown an undisputed champion, hallelujah! Haney is the bookmakers’ favourite, but is contractually obliged to rematch ‘Ferocious’ if he is successful, which would prevent him from facing Davis next. However, if Kambosos could upset the odds once more, there is no such red tape prohibiting him from taking on ‘Tank’.
Yes, it would be a dangerous bout for the Aussie, but if he were to have already defeated two out of the new ‘Four Kings’ (the ones which do not fight each other, apparently) he would likely have no fear of Davis, particularly given the money a fight of that magnitude would generate.