BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Whether it is Devin Haney, George Kambosos Jr., Ryan Garcia, or Vasiliy Lomachenko, the undisputed lightweight champion will remain the clear-cut B-side in a potential fight against Gervonta Davis, at least in the eyes of Davis’ promoter.
Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, which handles Davis, stated that nobody in the 135-pound division comes close to being the draw that Baltimore’s Davis is, and so long as that remains the case, any fight negotiations would have to proceed from that premise, irrespective of how many titles the opponent may have.
“Davis is the picture,” Ellerbe told BoxingScene.com when asked about how Davis, who holds a secondary (“regular”) belt with the WBA, fits into the larger lightweight title picture. “He is the prize. He’s the only one – again, put this in perspective. I’ve said this before. You can put all those guys that you’re talking about, put them all together, and they still don’t equal what Davis just did on Sunday night in [Los Angeles] with all those fans.
“We have all the leverage. The belts are what they are. Those are good fighters. All these guys will meet up. They will eventually fight each other. You can’t do it fast enough, you know?”
Ellerbe was referencing the reported 15,580 spectators that came to see Davis outpoint Isaac Cruz in a competitive 12-round lightweight bout at Staples Center (now Crypto.com Arena) in Los Angeles last December.
Davis, no doubt, has enjoyed a commercial boom in the past couple of years, headlining as a pay-per-view attraction in his past three fights. The 27-year-old has also commanded large gates in various metropolitan cities across the country, including Atlanta, San Antonio, and his hometown of Baltimore, in a way that few American fighters at the moment have been able to do.
The next city on Davis’ list is the media capital of the world, New York City, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the site of Davis’ 2017 junior lightweight title victory over Jose Pedraza. Davis (26-0, 24 KOs)will swap punches with Rolando Romero (14-0, 12 KOs) in a 12-round lightweight bout at the venue May 28 on Showtime Pay-Per-View.
Ellerbe said he has nothing against the other titleholders in Davis’ division and commended them for chasing titles and compiling achievements. But Ellerbe also made it clear that, from a bottom-line perspective, having titles does not necessarily increase your Q Score or bankability. Moreover, Ellerbe noted that what is often deemed a "big fight" by the peanut gallery on social media is rarely the case in reality and suggested that Davis’ cohorts need to do a better job of shoring up their marketability in order to demand a fight with Davis.
“That’s a good thing,” Ellerbe said of the titlists trying to unify. “They have to do what they’re doing in order to build their base. And that’s a good thing. Because you want to be able to bring something to the table. You don’t just want to say, I want to fight you because my name is this.
"Fights that people think are big they really aren’t big. What is the definition of big? What are we gonna do, sell out an arena? Have we had any problems selling out any arenas? I’d like to see some of these guys build their profiles to make people interested. Guess what? People are gonna pay their money for what they want to see. If you have an event and people aren’t supporting your event there’s a reason why.
“You gotta keep that in perspective where the fan interest is. This sport right here is bigger than what’s on Twitter and all of that. Like, we understand how to build fighters and turn them into stars. You understand?”
Ellerbe was asked to consider a scenario in which Haney (27-0, 15 KOs), the 23-year-old WBC lightweight titlist from Las Vegas, became the undisputed champion of the division later this year by defeating Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs), who holds the WBA, WBO, and IBF titles. Would it help Haney, who has a lower commercial profile than Davis, at the bargaining table for a fight with Davis if he was an undisputed titlist?
“It’s not about a bargaining chip,” Ellerbe said, in reference to the titles. “Of course [having belts], that’s a good thing. That’s a real good thing. He’s a real good fighter. He can’t beat Tank Davis, though, but he’s a good fighter.
“But I wouldn’t give a sh!t if he had 49 belts. He can’t beat Tank.”