By Keith Idec
BALTIMORE – Floyd Mayweather and Gervonta Davis didn’t sound all that interested Saturday night in fighting Gary Russell Jr. anytime soon.
When he was asked about Russell as a potential opponent during a post-fight press conference, Davis responded, “No, I don’t think so.” A Davis-Russell fight would do big business in Baltimore, where a sellout crowd of 14,686 attended Davis’ second-round technical knockout of Ricardo Nunez on Saturday night at Royal Farms Arena.
The 24-year-old Davis proved he is a huge draw in his hometown. The 31-year-old Russell is from nearby Capitol Heights, Maryland.
Mayweather seemed to dismiss Russell as a future foe for Davis because they’re not currently in the same weight class. Russell has long competed at featherweight, four pounds below the division in which Davis holds a WBA title.
“Gary Russell is a solid opponent,” Mayweather said. “I don’t think Gary Russell is fighting at 130 at this particular time. So, you know, when Gary Russell comes up to 130 and makes some noise, if Tank hasn’t moved up to 135 then anything is possible down the line. But as of right now, we’re looking forward to a unification bout, maybe even Tank versus [Yuriorkis] Gamboa. But right now, we want the Tevin Farmer [fight]. … We’ll make a unification bout because the belt that Tevin Farmer has, actually Tank really still is the IBF champion and the WBA champion. So, if we gotta go take the belt twice, that’s what we’ll do.”
Davis was stripped of the IBF junior lightweight title Farmer later won for failing to make weight for his eighth-round knockout of Francisco Fonseca in August 2017.
Russell (30-1, 18 KOs), who holds the WBC featherweight title, told BoxingScene.com before his last fight that he would welcome an all-Maryland showdown with Davis next. The 2008 U.S. Olympian was critical of Davis’ level of opposition, a common complaint among fans who want to see how the hard-hitting Davis (22-0, 21 KOs) would fare against someone as good as Russell or one of the other 130-pound champions.
“As far as the fight is concerned, easy work,” Russell said. “He hasn’t fought nobody. Who has Gervonta fought? He fought a whole lot of nobodies, people that, as soon as he hit ‘em, they fall. He hasn’t fought anybody that gave him any type of opposition at all. You know, fights are won off of intellect, not just off of being strong. I tell people, boxing is intellect manifested on the physical form. In most cases, the more educated person should win – not the strongest, not the biggest, not the tallest – the smartest person should win. There’s no way in hell that Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis has the intellect, the hand speed or even the ring generalship to deal with me. After about three, four rounds, he’ll be lost. He wouldn’t know what to do.”
Russell is more likely to remain at featherweight to pursue fights against Abner Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) or WBA featherweight champ Leo Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KOs), who also has expressed interest in moving up to face Davis. The skillful southpaw would welcome the Davis fight if Mayweather and his emerging star change their minds.
“If they wanna continue to feed ‘Tank’ these low-quality fights,” Russell said, “with people that’s really gonna give him no competition at all, I mean, that’s good because he can build his fan base up. He’s running through these guys, he’s running them over and everything else. But what happens when he competes against someone that’s gonna try, just attempt to try?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.