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Gervonta Davis: Protected or Privileged?

Three-division world champ Gervonta “Tank” Davis is hearing the negative buzz from fans and media, and he’s having none of it.

Accused of being a protected entity under the guidance of promoter and mentor Floyd Mayweather, the 27-year-old, who’s been bouncing around, taking belts, from 130 to 140 pounds (and who is scheduled to defend his lightweight title on December 5 against Isaac Cruz), recently went on the offensive on Brian Custer’s Last Stand podcast.

"They’re saying Mayweather Promotions are protecting me and not letting me fight top fighters," Davis said. "Whoever is in the top four, I don’t know who they’re talking about. Name somebody that is fighting the top whoever. You don’t see any other top fighters fighting top guys. I don’t know when it’s going to happen. It’ll probably happen next year or the year after that. I don’t know but don’t just put everything on me and say I’m not fighting top guys.

"The only guy that fought somebody but didn"t want to give him his rematch [vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko] is Teofimo. He didn’t even know he was going to beat him. I don’t even want to talk about him because I don’t want to give anybody else press but name the other top guys that are fighting top guys. Y’all keep saying, ‘Gervonta, Gervonta, Gervonta.’ It’s only because I’m doing the numbers I’m doing and not even saying I’m fighting top guys. I’m not fighting the guys that y’all want me to fight. That’s why y’all keep screaming out my name, that’s why. That’s the only thing I can say because nobody else is fighting top guys. Name them if they’re fighting. It’s nobody. What’s the guy [Haney] that is going to fight right before me [on Dec. 4]. JoJo [Diaz] is not a top guy. He’s not."

Is Davis trying to say that because guys like Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, and Ryan Garcia aren’t fighting elite-level opposition, that he’s justified in not doing so, either?

There is, however, a real point to be made about double standards when it comes to these kinds of criticisms. True elite vs. elite matchups are rare in all of boxing and, realistically, you could probably count on one hand the number of high-end fighters who actively and routinely pursue anything even resembling even-money challenges against fellow high-end fighters. It’s a problem plaguing the entire sport, made infinitely worse by a business model that allows for networks to sign talent to exclusive deals and wall them off from other challengers in their division.

Davis insists that he’s never turned down a challenge presented to him by his team.

"Nobody ever came and said ‘do you want to fight this fighter" and I said ‘no." You can ask Mayweather Promotions or [adviser] Al Haymon. They never came to me and said a fighter"s name, and I said ‘no." Never."

Instead, Davis sees a strategy involved in his matchmaking. As a legitimate draw with tremendous further growth potential, he knows that he’s in a position to pick and choose when to take his calculated risks.

"There are so many people calling my name," Davis said. "It’s more so I have to catch them when I can catch them. That"s where I am at right now. Sit back. They are calling my name. Okay. Catch them at the right time. Catch them while they"re sleeping. That"s what I am doing. Just pop right up on them. Say, ‘here it is. You"ve been calling my name.’"

From Team Davis’ perspective, that’s just smart business. And, plus, it’s not like all of these guys– Lopez, Lomachenko, Haney, Garcia, etc.– can’t make big-money bouts with one another while trying to wrangle a Davis bout.

Outsiders, though, may call Davis’ strategy "cherry-picking." And, yeah, it could be fair to say that. But, then again, per Davis’ reasoning, all of these other guys are also picking at cherries.

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