LAS VEGAS – Gervonta Davis was 21, knocking out most of his opponents, not all that long ago.
For the most part, his handlers have taken a measured matchmaking approach while building the powerful southpaw from Baltimore into an attraction. Knowing what it’s like to endure the criticism that comes with such strategies, Davis refrained from condemning Oscar De La Hoya and his matchmakers at Golden Boy Promotions for patiently picking Garcia’s opponents, rather than rushing Garcia toward a fight against someone like him.
Davis discussed Garcia, among other topics, during a lengthy interview with reporters prior to Garcia’s first-round knockout of Romero Duno on Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“They know that Ryan’s still maturing,” Davis said, “and he’s still a kid.”
Garcia (19-0, 16 KOs) produced the most impressive victory of his career by blowing out the Philippines’ Duno (21-2, 16 KOs) on the Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev undercard. He has steadily shown improvement since he began working with Alvarez’s trainers, Eddy Reynoso and his dad, Jose “Chepo” Reynoso.
Garcia also has learned to stop calling out more established fighters like Davis on social media. The polarizing prospect knows those types of fights aren’t imminent and admitted after knocking out Duno that he doesn’t want to mislead fans into thinking those are realistic possibilities for 2020.
“It’s not about, you know, maximizing the money or the pay,” Garcia said in reference to fighting WBC lightweight champ Devin Haney next year. “It’s just, you know, I’m moving at my pace. Whatever Devin, you know, wants. He’s gonna say that, but in reality, you know, it’s not gonna happen, you know, by 2020.
“You know, it’s more possible to happen in 2021. You know, I’m just gonna keep it real. I’m not gonna, you know, paint a picture for you guys and be like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna fight next year,’ and then it doesn’t happen. That’s why I stopped calling out names, because, you know, it’s just not realistic.”
The Victorville, California, native also said Saturday night that he hopes to fight former WBA lightweight champ Jorge Linares (46-5, 28 KOs) and contender Luke Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) in back-to-back bouts next year.
Davis, who attended the Alvarez-Kovalev card, is impressed with what he has seen from Garcia.
“He’s a great fighter,” said Davis, who’ll turn 25 on Thursday. “He’s still coming up. He’s got star power. He’s doing great. They’re pushing him right. I don’t see them doing nothing wrong with him. If he’s still on the path he’s on, we’ll meet one day.”
Baltimore’s Davis (22-0, 21 KOs) is scheduled to box Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-2, 18 KOs) in a 12-round lightweight fight Showtime will televise December 28 from State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.