Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who will defend his WBA lightweight title against no. 1 contender Rolando “Rolly” Romero this Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, has all of the physical tools needed to become a crossover mainstream boxing superstar.
Blessed with supreme athleticism, blinding speed, and legit one-punch power in both hands, the 5-time, 3-division world champ has drawn comparisons in style and demeanor to former heavyweight champ and “Baddest Man on the Planet” Mike Tyson.
The 27-year-old Davis also has the back story needed to sell himself to the masses. The Baltimore native came from the most humble of beginnings, fighting his way, literally, out of the foster care system. His rags-to-riches story is hardly a unique one in the sport of boxing, but it’s incredibly compelling and salable to the masses nonetheless.
As he enters his physical prime as a fighter and readies himself for a fourth-straight appearance as a pay-per-view headliner, he’s also at the end of his promotional contract with Floyd Mayweather’s Mayweather Promotions. And he’s given every indication that he won’t be re-signing.
On a recent edition of The Last Stand Podcast with Brian Custer, Davis was asked about his previously stated desire to move on from Mayweather Promotions.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be leaving Mayweather Promotions,” Davis said. “It’s about just, you know, becoming that man to handle your own, you know, responsibility, your own priority. I feel as though it’s my career so I feel as though I need to be the one to control my career, you know what I mean. And it’s time. Everybody doesn’t need to have training wheels on them forever. It’s time to ride their own bike without training wheels.”
Custer would double back to clarify the fighter’s somewhat vague statement.
“So this is your last fight with Mayweather Promotions?” Custer asked.
“Yes sir,” Davis said while nodding.
Thus far, Floyd Mayweather and other representative of his promotional company have been diplomatic in addressing Davis’ apparent desire to try his luck in the open market.
“Nothing lasts forever,” Mayweather said in March, after Davis revealed on social media that this upcoming fight would be his last under his Mayweather Promotions contract. “I will always love Tank. I like him. Love him – look at him as a son. He has to do what’s best for him. I feel like I’ve done a great job thus far, building him and putting him in good fights, great fights. He’s steady growing, he’s steady learning. I’m proud of him.”
Behind the scenes, though, there has to be some seething or, at least, some general ill will. Mayweather Promotions has, after all, brought Davis this far and made him a lot of money. They’ve helped facilitate a grassroots support that has made him one of the biggest live gate draws in the sport. There’s a case to be made that, right now and in today’s market, Davis just may be the biggest draw among American fighters.
While a lot of that is from Davis’ own lights-out performances, one can’t completely rule out the role Mayweather Promotions has played in helping him get his ring work to the masses. They’ve also helped him get to that next, pay-per-view level of stardom that very few fighters attain.
But, if Davis has learned his lessons by watching Mayweather’s own rise to superstardom, then he knows that the only way to make “Mayweather money” is by cutting out the promoter and becoming fully independent, as Mayweather did when he left Top Rank promotions way back in the day.
If/when Davis beats Romero this Saturday, we’ll see where “Tank” goes next…and how well Mayweather takes being left behind.