If Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis has his way his next fight will be against fellow lightweight star Ryan Garcia.
“I’m pushing for it for sure,” Davis told BoxingScene in an interview. “Everybody said they’re on board with it so it shouldn’t be that hard (to make). I just keep asking them over and over, (promoters) Leonard (Ellerbe) and Floyd (Mayweather). I think Floyd wants the fight to happen so it shouldn’t be hard to make.”
Davis and Garcia have both been outspoken about wanting to fight each other, especially since their most recent fights.
Davis scored a sensational knockout of Leo Santa Cruz on Oct. 31 to retain his WBA secondary lightweight title and win the sanctioning body’s junior lightweight title. On Jan. 2, Garcia got off the canvas from a second-round knockdown to knock out Luke Campbell with a body shot in the seventh round to win the vacant WBC interim lightweight title.
After talking up a potential fight separately, Davis and Garcia both got to call each other out directly when they spoke to each other during a recent edition of Mike Tyson’s “Hotboxin’ podcast. Garcia was with Tyson in the studio and Davis called in via Facetime and they playfully went at it.
Even Garcia’s promoter, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya, has said he wants to make the fight next, recently tweeting at Davis and Mayweather in reference to the pairing, “You down?”
Garcia predicts if they fight that he will knock out Davis – who has never been knocked down much less stopped – in the second round.
“The fight versus ‘Tank’ is the biggest fight to be made in the world this year with the exception of (Tyson) Fury-(Anthony) Joshua,” Garcia told BoxingScene. “Make sure the pressure is on Davis. He’s out in two rounds! That’s it and it’s all she wrote.”
The 26-year-old Davis (24-0, 23 KOs), a southpaw from Baltimore, scoffed at Garcia’s prediction.
“You got to be on steroids or something if you think you’re knocking me out in two rounds,” Davis said with laugh. “He’s a kid with a lot of confidence, so he’s on the high horse right now. He got some good knockouts back to back.”
The Facetime call with Tyson was the first time Davis and Garcia had ever personally interacted.
“I never seen him before or talked to him. That was my first time talking to him so I don’t know him to have any bad blood with him,” Davis said.
If their camps get into a serious negotiation -- which likely would be complicated because they are with rival promoters and affiliated with different broadcasters -- Davis at first said he believes he should get the lion’s share of the money but then backed off.
“I think for sure I should be the guy who gets the most share,” he said. “I think it should be 60-40 because I have a belt at 135. He don’t. He hasn’t really proven himself at that weight class yet.”
When reminded that Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs), 22, of Victorville, California, just won an interim belt, has been fighting as a lightweight for more than two years and that Davis only just made the jump to lightweight for his December 2019 knockout of Yuriorkis Gamboa to win the vacant secondary title (before dropping to junior lightweight for the Santa Cruz bout), Davis changed his tune.
“As far as the percentage, whatever will make the fight happen,” Davis said. “It’s not really about the percentage.”
Davis, who has only had one opponent take him the distance -- and that was in a six-round fight in 2014 – said he was confident he would stop Garcia.
“I think I’ll actually break him down. Even though he’s a bigger fighter, taller, has a longer reach I think I can break him down,” Davis said. “He’s fast and he’s strong but I think I’m more of fighter than him and I think I would break him down in the later rounds and wind up knocking him out.”
Davis has been in Miami training with Mike Stafford alongside two of his pals, former four-division world titlist Adrien Broner and former lightweight titleholder Robert Easter Jr., who are both getting ready for fights on the same Feb. 13 Showtime card. But Davis said he found time to watch Garcia’s fight against Campbell while relaxing as a guest on his friend’s boat.
“He did what he was supposed to do. He got up like a true champion,” Davis said of Garcia’s recovery from a hard knockdown. “Right before he got knocked down I tweeted out that he was too anxious. So, it’s just him being young and getting comfortable in the ring and wanting to get the knockout. I understand. He not only got dropped but he came right back and he did well. He wasn’t stumbling or nothing. He got right back up. I’ve never been knocked down and don’t plan it.”
Davis said he whether he fights Garcia next or not he is just anxious to get a fight date lined up and get into his serious camp in Las Vegas.
“I am ready to get in camp now. That’s why I came down here to Florida, to stay around the gym and stay around boxing. I want to be active,” Davis said. “I am ready to get in camp tomorrow if I could be. If I had a fight date I would definitely in be in Vegas right now training but I don’t got nothing yet. So I’m here to stay in shape, stay around boxing, keep my mind on boxing.”
He said he has been impressed by the way Broner is training for his first fight in two years, since a clear unanimous decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight title bout.
“Broner is looking forward to coming back. He’s trimming down. He’s definitely focused,” Davis said. “He’s running every day. He’s looking good in the gym when he spars. I’m looking forward to his comeback.”
Even though fighting Garcia is what Davis would like to do next, he said he has also been paying attention to two other young guns of the 135-pound division – unified world champion Teofimo Lopez Jr. (16-0, 12 KOs), 23, and 22-year-old world titlist Devin Haney (25-0, 15 KOs), both of whom he said he sparred with when they were all teenagers.
“I touched Teofimo up and played with him,” Davis said of their sparring years ago. “I actually stopped Devin in sparring. We sparred twice. I stopped him the first time and almost knocked him out the second time. But it was good sparring the second time, but I almost knocked him out.”
As for their burgeoning rivalries as pros, Davis said it will be good for the sport for them to face each other.
“That’s good for us to mix it up at 135 and may the best man win. I’m all for it,” Davis said. “I definitely would like to mix it up with Lopez. I definitely think he’s on the high horse right now. He thinks he’s supposed to get more percentage than everybody and nobody don’t know him. He did what he did (to win the belts by decision from Vasiliy Lomachenko on Oct. 17) but you still got to prove it. You got to keep proving it no matter who you beat. Don’t matter if people thought Lomachenko was pound for pound. You still got to continue to prove yourself.”
As for Haney, Davis doesn’t have much respect for his resume.
“He’s the only one of us four who don’t fight nobody. He has fought nobody,” Davis said. “He’s the email champion. Who has he fought? He fought a Gamboa that I already stopped. You got to prove yourself, bro. I had to prove myself when they put me in there (in 2017 against unbeaten junior lightweight world titlist Jose) Pedraza and I only had 16 fights. I was still wet behind the ears. I went from fighting eight-rounders to fighting for my first world title. Pedraza was no slouch. With Devin, he hasn’t proven himself yet.”
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.