Gervonta Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) made Rolando Romero pay for his trash-talking with a devasting sixth-round knockout, on May 28.
‘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 had a change of heart, declaring in the post-fight press conference: “Still Mayweather Promotions, baby.”
Davis’ decision could have serious implications for his career trajectory. Under Floyd Mayweather’s promotional outfit, Davis has 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.
However, talk of clash with Ryan Garcia simply refuses to go away. Is it just that; talk, or could we see the two hard-hitting lightweights do battle later this year?
Here are five options available for Davis to face next:
Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 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 whose 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 deny is that Garcia is popular and that fanbase 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 screaming the whole fight I’m next so let it be.. December, let’s get it.”
The “business” Garcia had to take care of was Javier Fortuna, who represented a test for ‘KingRy’ but one he passed with flying colours, knocking the Dominican down three times en route to a sixth round knockout, at super-lightweight. Afterwards, Garcia reiterated his desire to fight ‘Tank’ next, but added the caveat that any potential match-up would have to take place at 140lbs. I’m sure that will help expedite already complex negotiations.
Despite great public demand for the fight to happen and the fact that both fighters appear keen for it take place, nothing is that simple in boxing. Davis’ decision to renew his promotional deal with Mayweather Promotions complicates matters. Golden Boy Promotions (who represent Garcia) and Mayweather Promotions do not have the best working relationship. That is not the only hurdle which must be cleared, both fighters are aligned to different broadcasters; ‘Tank’ fights on Showtime, while Garcia competes on DAZN. A joint pay-per-view could be the solution, but exactly how that would work with a streaming platform like DAZN remains to be seen. It is possible that this could end up being reminiscent of the situation between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, who spent years calling each other out, before finally facing off when they were past their respective primes.
For those of a more optimistic disposition, there are reasons to be cheerful; this fight would generate an astronomical amount of revenue, which may just be simply too tempting for all involved to turn down.
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 via 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 villain brilliantly, and regardless of if people are there to cheer you on or praying you get stopped, they pay the same. Now that ‘Tank’ has extended his contract 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 12th frame.
‘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 Mayweather Promotions continue their policy of matching Davis with PBC fighters, 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.
Jorge Linares (47-7, 29 KOs)
Whilst not a PBC fighter, the three-weight world champion appears to no longer be under contract with Golden Boy Promotions. That certainly increases his chances of securing a fight with Davis. Linares may not be the fighter he once was, but he still maintains a degree of name value, which is more than can be said for the majority of boxers in a fallow lightweight division.
Despite his deterioration as a fighter, the Venezuelan with his high cheek bones, silky hair and silkier skills is capable of stirring feelings in heterosexual middle-aged men than are usually associated with Ryan Garcia’s teenage fanbase. Basically, Linares will always be popular with fight fans.
There is no denying that Linares’ prowess is diminishing, as he has lost four of his last seven fights, with his wins coming against comparatively modest opposition. However, it was only last year that he gave Devin Haney a competitive bout, which ‘The Dream’ won on the judges’ scorecards. Given that all the major lightweight titles are now in the possession of Haney, if ‘Tank’ were able to beat the 36-year-old with greater ease than Haney, it would help strengthen Davis’ unsubstantiated claim of being the best lightweight on planet.
Devin Haney (28-0, 15 KOs)
After 20 months of having disputed undisputed lightweight champions, Haney finally cleared up the mess by becoming the undisputed ruler at 135lbs with a dominant performance against Geroge Kambosos, in June. Well, sort of, because after all, Davis still holds a WBA world title at the weight, albeit a secondary version.
While the WBA ‘Regular’ belt is derided by dedicated fight fans, it is indistinguishable from the real thing to the general public. Davis can call himself a reigning world champion, and the vast majority of people will accept that at face value. The division could conceivably have two WBA lightweight champions for the foreseeable future.
However, there is a glimmer of hope. Ostensibly, the WBA are in the process of consolidating their world champions, with the final goal of there being a single world champion representing the sanctioning body at each weight class. You would think this would be straight forward; the multiple champions would face each other and there would be one title holder at the end. Sadly, this is boxing and without a governing body to oversee this streamlining, the Panama-based outfit are able to drag their heels. At present, the timeline for their cull of secondary titles is scheduled to be completed at the same time as the painting of the Forth Road Bridge.
Theoretically, the WBA could order Haney and Davis to fight, which is likely the only way a such a bout would come to fruition. ‘The Dream’ is promoted by Top Rank and fights on ESPN, as outlined earlier, promotional and broadcast deals can be prohibitive to allowing the best to box each other. If there was an appetite on both sides to make it happen, there is precedent for Bob Arum’s company working with PBC to offer joint pay-per-views, having promoted the trilogy between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury together. Therefore, it is not inconceivable that a deal could be struck.
The biggest stumbling block preventing a clash between the American lightweights is that Haney is contractually obliged to rematch Kambosos later this year.