Gervonta “Tank” Davis has to knock out rising former WBA 130-pound titlist Hector Garcia on Saturday before facing Ryan Garcia in a much bigger fight later this year.
Davis guarantees high-drama, celebrity-filled crowds and knockout victories, and his past four fights have consistently produced between 200,000 and 230,000 pay-per-view buys.
A five-time, three-division champion and Baltimore native, Davis may be boxing’s biggest draw this side of three-belt welterweight champion Errol Spence and four-division champion Canelo Alvarez, having proven to be the premier fighter at junior lightweight, lightweight or junior welterweight by dominating superior competition to his counterparts.
The 28-year-old Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) looks to continue that streak with Saturday’s defense of his WBA 135-pound title, his fifth straight pay per view bout and a clash of unbeaten southpaws opposite Hector Garcia (16-0, 10 KOs) at The Capital One Arena on Showtime Pay Per View (9 pm. ET/ 6 pm. PT).
Davis returns against Garcia in his first bout in Maryland since July 2019, when 14,686 witnessed his second round TKO of Ricardo Nunez at Royal Farms Arena in his native Baltimore.
“It feels good to be back home. All the greats have fought here,” said Davis, whose 96-percent knockout ratio ranks second among world champions to that of IBF/WBC 175-pound titleholder Artur Beterbiev (18–0, 18 KOs).
“Now I get to come back home and put on another great event that we’re excited for. [Héctor Luis] Garcia is talking about getting the knockout, so we know Garcia is coming. I’ve always been the guy who stays focused and knows that whoever is in front of me is a threat.”
In victory over the 31-year-old Hector Garcia, Davis is set to face hammer-fisted 24-year-old Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs) in an April bout considered to be among the sport’s most highly anticipated.
But Davis must first get beyond Hector Garcia, a 2016 Olympian from the Dominican Republic who is two bouts removed from February’s one-knockdown, upset near-shutout unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Chris Colbert.
A late replacement against Colbert after WBA 130-pound champion Roger Gutierrez tested positive for Covid-19 three weeks before the fight, Garcia was more than a 20-1 underdog against Colbert, who entered at 16-0 (6 KOs).
Garcia won his next and last fight in August by unanimous decision to dethrone Gutierrez, who entered at 26-3-1 (20 KOs).
“I’m not fazed by anything people say. I know who I am and I know what to do. I know that I have the height advantage, but I can adapt myself to the rhythm of my opponent. I know that I’m facing one of the best fighters out there, but I’m a great fighter, too,” said Garcia, who stands 5-foot-9 to Davis’ 5-foot-5 ½
“Me and my trainer are ready. We trust each other and that goes a long way in fights like these. Whether it’s toe-to-toe or he wants to move and box, we’re coming to make this a battle. If I beat ‘Tank’ on January 7, I’d be happy to go after a fight against Ryan Garcia. I don’t think he’s on the same level as me and Gervonta.”
Davis has been training for Hector Garcia in Miami, Fla., under the guidance of career-long cornerman, Calvin Ford, at the 5th Street Gym.
“Hector has had two impressive wins and is a real world champion. We’re trying to take the hardest fights. This is a fight that we asked for. I always say that the road to success is through D.C., and now we’re here,” Ford said.
“The only thing on my mind is Hector Luis Garcia. He’s bringing a lot to the table. We can’t sleep on Garcia. People know he’s the real deal. We have so much pain and we need to release it before we go to the next level.”
In his last fight in May, Davis scored a highlight reel sixth-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Rolando Romero before a sold-out arena record 18,970 fans was his third in as many appearances at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and delivered the highest-grossing boxing match at the venue.
Davis knocked out Romero, who entered at 14-0 (12 KOs), in a star-packed venue including Madonna, tennis star Naomi Osaka, television personality and former NFL star Michael Strahan, former NFL running back LeSean McCoy, Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson and other current and former NBA players.
Romero marked Davis’ last fight with Hall of Fame promoter, Floyd Mayweather Jr., a millionaire, five-division retired champion whose blueprint “Tank” followed.
Mayweather succeeded as his own promoter with no sponsorships, crediting boxing manager, Al Haymon, who created the Premier Boxing Champions platform.
As a free agent, Davis is hoping for similar success as a promoter.
“This is a stacked undercard, it almost feels like I’m back in the amateurs with all these great fighters,” Davis said. “It’s huge to open up the opportunity for other fighters to showcase their skills on the big stage. When you make your mark in the sport, it’s about coming back and showing other people that it can happen for them.”
From a monetary and popularity standpoint, Davis has consistently produced between 200,000 and 230,000 pay-per-view buys during his victories over the past three years, including a 12th-round TKO of three-division champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (December 2019), a sixth-round KO of four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz (October 2020) and an 11th-round TKO that dethroned previously unbeaten WBA 140-pound champion Mario Barrios (June 2021).
More than 9,000 witnessed Davis’ KO-Of-The-Year caliber victory in October 2020 at the Alamodome in San Antonio over Santa Cruz, who was knocked out for the first time — and knocked cold. It was the first time that fans were allowed to return to ringside following pandemic restrictions.
A capacity crowd of 16,432 packed State Farm Arena in Atlanta to see Davis’ three-knockdown triumph over Barrios.
Davis handled Cruz before a sold-out crowd of 15,850 at Staples Center that included current and former NBA stars Magic Johnson, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Paul Pierce, Kenny Smith and Kawhi Leonard.
Before Romero, Davis won his previous fight in December 2021 by unanimous decision over Isaac Cruz despite injuring his left hand in the sixth round. “Tank’s” streak of consecutive knockouts ended at 16 against Cruz, who entered at 24-1-1 (17 KOs).
Ryan Garcia, meanwhile, rose from a second-round knockdown against Luke Campbell to win the WBC’s vacant 135-pound interim 135-pound title in January 2021. But Garcia vacated that crown when he took time off to focus on his mental health.
Garcia returned in April for a unanimous decision over 140-pound rival Emmanuel Tagoe, who entered at 32-1 (15 KOs). Garcia’s last fight was July’s three-knockdown, sixth-round stoppage of left-handed former two-division champion Javier Fortuna, who entered his career-high 140-pound bout at 37-3-1 (26 KOs).
But Davis knows he has to defeat Hector Garcia before he can before he can focus on Ryan Garcia.
“I know we have two fights lined up, but I’m only focused on this one. I’m ready to go through everybody that’s in my way. Every fight is a stepping stone toward what I want to do. I feel as though this fight with Héctor is an important piece in all of it. I have to put on a good performance. Héctor is a sound fighter who’s beat some top guys,” Davis said.
“He’s a durable guy who’s coming to fight. He’s undefeated and he’s a great opponent. You can’t sleep on him,” Davis said. “If you’re sleeping on him, he might put you to sleep. I’m just ready to shut everyone up. All the talking that’s going around, I just want to go in the ring and shut them all up.”
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