Image Credit: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Gervonta “Tank” Davis is coming home.
The two-time super featherweight world champion and Mayweather Promotions protege will make history on Saturday, July 27 as the first Baltimore native to make a homecoming title defense in nearly 80 years.
Davis (21-0) is defending his WBA Super Featherweight World Championship against mandatory challenger Ricardo “Científico” Núñez (21-2) at Royal Farms Arena, making it just the second time that the power-punching southpaw has fought in his hometown since turning professional in 2013.
Oh, those “mandatories.”
The word usually draws a collective side-eye for its normal challenge-absent joy kill factor. However, this is the Panamanian challenger’s first world title shot and his first fight stateside. The fact that he’s coming to “Tank’s” hometown deserves a salute for his bravery alone.
The last Baltimore native to make a title defense in his hometown was Harry Jeffra, a featherweight world champion who defeated Spider Armstrong in July 1940 at Carlin’s Park to retain his belt.
At 24-years-old, Davis is America’s youngest reigning world champion and has proven he has the star power to put Baltimore on the map as a significant fight city. The first world champion from Baltimore was Joe Gans, who was also the first African-American world champion in boxing history when he won the lightweight title in 1902.
“I believe it’s time for me to fight in front of my hometown and thank them for supporting me,” Davis said. “I never thought a fight in Baltimore would be this big. It gives me chills, but I’m ready for it. It’s a big test. I’ve been gone for so long and coming home feels amazing.”
Across The Party Line
On the same day in Arlington, Texas, IBF super featherweight champion Tevin Farmer (29-4-1) takes on Guillaume Frenois (46-1-1).
Also, Frenois’ first time fighting stateside, the 35-year-old has an in-ring experience that he hopes will overtake the rapid resurgence and reinvention of Farmer.
However, with both Davis and Farmer fighting on the same day with beef dating back to their very loud run-in at the MGM Grand National Harbor in Maryland, it is no surprise that this is an unofficial face-off. The two warriors have clamored for a pairing since they exchanged lip service, but with mandatories and boxing politics, it has not materialized to the ultimate chagrin of the fans.
Davis seems to be having a hard time lining up matches with primetime opponents.
The planned epic matchup between Abner Mares and Gervonta “Tank” Davis did not happen after the four-time world champion Mexican star suffered an unfortunate injury in training camp, withdrawing from their planned February 9th bout.
The Mayweather Method
Famously, Davis’s promoter, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., beat all 50 of his professional opponents.
It started with winning a world championship against over-the-hill Genaro Hernandez and ended with the destruction of boxing newbie “The Notorious” Conor McGregor.
He has made over a billion dollars in his athletic career joining the likes of Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Still, with the bodies on his record mostly feeling like a just-before-retirement-bout for his opponents, Mayweather will never escape the criticisms of boxing’s staunchest supporters for alleged cherry-picking.
The 24-year-old Davis is demolishing the competition and being labeled the second coming of Mike Tyson via his power punching. He has knocked out 20 of his 21 professional opponents, including KOs in all five of his world championship fights.
But he has yet to attempt to unify and there are no signs that he will anytime soon.
With Farmer, WBA Regular Champion Andrew Cancio, WBC champ Miguel Berchelt, and WBO champ Jamal Herring all in line, Davis is the biggest name in a small room. That leverage has always been expertly utilized by Mayweather Promotions to stall out for the best deals that will not only make the most money but keep their champs, just that, champs.
But does it hurt the game of boxing? Will a young and hungry Davis be relegated to facing fighters that he will probably dominate for an extended period of time before squaring off against the best to create a legacy soaked in accepting the best challenges?
If his boss’s resume is any indication, then Mayweather is playing chess, trying to build a sustained legacy for a naturally powerful fighter like Davis. No need to blemish his record by taking on the toughest of challenges too soon. Still, the Money Team promotional machine needs to tread lightly with its newest sensation and start putting some potentially classic fights together to ensure the world doesn’t view his achievements as marketing hyped counterfeit.