In Saturday night’s main card at Barclays Center, Gervonta “Tank” Davis was engaged in an even tilt against Rolando Romero. After nearly six rounds of exchanging power punches, Davis connected with a clean counter to Romero’s head. The energy coursing through the southpaw’s left hook temporarily incapacitated Romero, who fainted into the ropes. While Romero rebooted his internal hard drive, referee David Fields assessed him, found him unable to continue and stopped the fight. The TKO improved Davis’ professional record to 27-0 and was his 25th knockout.
Davis is a must-see demolition man in the ring. His fights have only gone to scorecards twice and once was in his previous fight, when an injured left hand leveled the playing field for Isaac Cruz. The heavyweight division has the highest density of knockout artists, but Davis has the nuclear codes in his gloves. His 27-0 record and 25 KOs have netted him a knockout-to-win percentage of 93 percent.
His chief rivals in the lightweight division win on stoppages at a significantly lower rate. The Ring ranks Davis fifth in the 135-pound weight class hierarchy behind George Kambosos Jr.,Teófimo López, Vasiliy Lomanchenko, and Devin Haney. Compared to Davis, Lopez has the second-highest knockout ratio of any top-10 lightweight boxer at 75 percent. Lomanchenko has halted 69 percent of his opponents in their tracks, Haney has only ended 56 percent of his fights in a stoppage and Kambosos has KO’d half of his opponents early. Olympic silver medalist and junior lightweight champion, Shakur Stevenson may eventually dip his toes into the cramped lightweight division as well.
Davis and his promoter, Floyd Mayweather, have created a brand that may inflate his actual rank within a stacked lightweight division. For years, Mayweather Promotions has shielded him from the top dogs in his weight class. Meanwhile, Haney is scheduled to face George Kambosos Jr. on June 4 in Australia. Kambosos handed Lopez his first loss in November of 2021 to claim the WBO, WBA, IBF and WBC franchise lightweight championship, although Lopez was fighting with a life-threatening condition. Lopez defeated Lomachenko in 2020. Garcia is only 23, but has been a pro since he was 17.
Garcia, the fifth-ranked lightweight at 22-0 sounds eager for a showdown with Davis. The 23-year-old also has a light résumé, but his 82 percent knockout ratio would make a Davis-Garcia bout the most dangerous clash in either boxer’s burgeoning career. Whether it will ever happen is another matter.
Since 2015, Davis has been an acolyte of Mayweather. Mayweather Promotions has been instrumental in framing the blueprint for him to follow. Davis, 27, became a box office draw as the lightweight division’s heavyweight hitter and by protecting his undefeated record. His raw power contrasts with the defensive pugilism Mayweather practiced over 50 professional career fights. He could duck a combo about as well as he could dodge his rivals until they were well past their primes.
Davis’ knockout of Mario Macias, 30 seconds into a 2016 bout, kicked his career onto the fast track. He’s steadily climbed the ranks and his purses have ballooned to modest amounts. Now 27, there are no more excuses for Davis to steer clear of the top opposition. Davis’ multi-fight deal with Mayweather Promotions expired after his fight with Romero.
“It’s my career, so I feel as though I need to be the one that controls my career. It’s time,” Davis said on “The Last Stand Podcast” the week before the Romero fight. “Everybody don’t need to have them training wheels on them forever. It’s time to ride their own bike without training wheels.”
Detractors of Davis will point out that he was at risk of losing the fight against Romero on the scorecards and that against more technically sound fighters, he’ll be exposed. Those critiques are among the reasons he is barely considered in the pound-for-pound top 10 fighters discussions. Eventually, though, the weak opposition narrative will begin to stick.
Davis’ physical attributes as a close-quarters slugger lead skeptics to question his potential. Davis may be the most electrifying boxer alive or he could be a mirage, and he’s the sweet science’s biggest contemporary enigma.
His 5-foot-5 stature and 67½″ reach stand as obstacles in his climb to the top of the lightweight division. The 5-foot-10 Garcia would tower over Davis and has the advantage of a 70-inch reach. Haney stands at 5-foot-9 and has a 71-inch reach. Lomachenko is a more tactical fighter than Davis, which is necessary for the 5-foot-7 amateur legend who possesses a 65 ½ inch reach. Lopez won the undisputed championship from Lomachenko two years ago as a 5-foot-8 power puncher whose reach measures in at 68 ½.
Boxing is probably the most frustrating professional sport. Even more frustrating than watching a four-hour MLB slog is waiting years for two marquee fighters to finally get in the ring with one another. All the anticipation in the world can’t overcome the instincts of managers to preserve their top fighters. Davis’ last three fights against tomato cans have been SHOWTIME pay-per-view events. However, to ascend into the top pound-for-pound stratosphere, Davis will have to finally put himself in the crosshairs of legitimate contenders.