By Keith Idec
CARSON, California – Gervonta Davis’ famous promoter stood by his side late Saturday night in a crowded hallway near Davis’ locker room.
Floyd Mayweather made sure everyone jammed into this tiny space received the same message – if there’s one fighter in boxing that can surpass his superstar status, it’s Davis. The retired five-division champion obviously is biased, but Mayweather seems genuinely confident he can bring along the 24-year-old Davis at a similar deliberate pace that Mayweather took to becoming the richest athlete in the history of professional sports.
Mayweather mentioned Davis’ crossover appeal because rap icons Drake, Lil’ Wayne and Meek Mill and NFL stars Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown were among those that composed the announced sellout crowd of 8,048 at Dignity Health Sports Park. It’s a sure sign, according to Mayweather, that the powerful southpaw is on the track he took to making massive amounts of money.
Baltimore’s Davis (21-0, 20 KOs) made a reported $1 million purse for quickly stopping Hugo Ruiz, though his total take from this “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event is believed to be more than that. Mayweather was pleased simply to see Davis back in the ring following a long layoff caused in part by Davis awaiting a workable date to make the first defense of his WBA super world super featherweight title.
Davis beat Ruiz by first-round technical knockout after dropping the Mexican veteran with a right cross. Referee Jack Reiss stopped their scheduled 12-round, 130-pound title bout with one second remaining in the first round because Ruiz indicated he didn’t want to continue.
“I’m extremely proud of Tank,” Mayweather said. “No matter what, he’s young – he’s gonna go through things. My thing is this, and I told him … I want him to focus more on raising his [7-month-old] daughter and working hard in the gym, surpassing me. The ultimate goal – if any fighter can surpass me, it’s this young man right here, which I truly believe. He’s gonna be a household name. He’s gonna be a pay-per-view star. He’s gotta stay on the right path, though, and he has to listen because out of all the fighters in boxing right now, I’m the only one that knows what it takes to become that household name and to make nine figures in one night.”
Davis drew criticism on social media Saturday night because he blew out an overmatched late replacement for Abner Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs).
Numerous boxers turned down this chance, but Ruiz accepted this daunting assignment on just 10 days’ notice once Mares learned he suffered a career-threatening detached retina in his right eye while sparring two weeks ago. The 32-year-old Ruiz (39-5, 33 KOs) had fought three weeks earlier and moved up from featherweight (126 pounds) to the 130-pound division to challenge the fast, heavy-handed Davis.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.