NEW YORK – Madonna. Michael Strahan. Tracy Morgan. Whenever Gervonta Davis fights, the stars come out in droves.
Saturday’s lightweight event at Barclays Center was no different, as 18,970 people were in attendance to watch “Tank” Davis send Rolando Romero crashing into the ropes for another scoring finish with a sixth-round TKO.
Davis has proven once again that he is one of boxing’s biggest stars. Barclays Center in Brooklyn? Exhausted. His December fight against Isaac Cruz at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles? Another full house. No matter the city, no matter who he faces, Davis has left no doubt that he is one of the most bankable athletes in the sport.
Now it’s time for him to step up and fight one of the elite at 135 pounds, the weight class Davis said after Saturday’s fight is his most comfortable.
There’s the one emerging from next week’s fight between George Kambosos Jr. and Devin Haney for the undisputed championship. The problem is, if Haney wins, Kambosos gets an immediate rematch.
But the biggest fight of all at 135 pounds? Ryan Garcia.
The victory over Romero was the last fight of Davis’ multi-fight deal with Mayweather Promotions. Tank indicated in the preparations that he would likely part ways with Floyd Mayweather, who has been his promoter since 2015, in favor of the kind of flexibility that Canelo Alvarez enjoys as a free agent. That would certainly remove any obstacles — or excuses — when it comes to pursuing the type of high profile opponents Davis should be looking for.
“He’s been protected,” Romero told ESPN on Wednesday. “Let’s go through Gervonta’s resume since winning a world title. [Jose] Pedraza, weighing 130 pounds. Liam Walsh, chinny, weak British fighter. Francisco Fonseca, who [Davis] hit behind the head and knocked him out in the eighth round.
“Ryan Garcia hit [Fonseca] in a turn like nothing. … [Yuriorkis] Gamboa, who had both [Davis’] eyes closed. Then he fought [Leo] Santa Cruz, which is a 118-pounder who moved to 126 and then 130 in favor of [advisor] Al-Haymon.”
Sure, Romero was overly critical before the fight, but he makes a few highlights. Davis’ best victory to date remains the 2017 TKO of Pedraza to claim his first title.
Regardless of the opposition, the talent is evident. And on Saturday, Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) showed a new layer with the kind of patient strategy he employed round after round against a dangerous puncher. He picked his shots. He held on when he felt Romero’s power. It was a mature performance from an ever-evolving fighter.
“I know when to bring it to my opponents and when to relax,” the 27-year-old Davis said. “There was someone in the crowd…and they were telling me to move on, and I was like, ‘Not yet. I need to loosen it up a bit more.'”
That’s exactly what Davis did, catching 26-year-old Romero into the ropes and then letting go of the left hand that separated “Rolly” from his senses.
Garcia, who is a star in his own right and was watching the fight from ringside, then shouted out to Mayweather Promotions’ Leonard Ellerbe in an attempt to call for one of the biggest fights that can be staged in all of boxing.
“Golden Boy is not going to put” Garcia near Davis, said Ellerbe, who promotes both Davis and Romero (14-1, 12 KOs). “Closest to Gervonta Davis is where he was tonight. He doesn’t want to fight Tank. It’s all talk. It’s all talk.”
That remains to be seen.
What’s clear: Davis doesn’t need a good dance partner to fill stadiums. But if he really wants to live up to his immense potential, he needs a fight with someone like Garcia to reach new heights.