By Jermill Pennington: On April 22 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Showtime pay-per-view, WBA Regular Lightweight Champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis (28-0, 26 KOs) will share the ring with boxing sensation Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs). This fight being scheduled comes as an unexpected treat to the delight of many boxing fans.
Those who know me closest would tell you that I’ve gone on what I would call “calculated rants” as to why this fight had no shot of happening. In my estimation, this is a fight that Garcia does not need to take at this point in his career. He’s only 24 years old and, Without having to take many risks, has picked up some huge endorsements. We know Garcia is the first boxer to be a featured Gatorade athlete, and not to mention his designer clothing deal with Dior.
Ryan Garcia is also the owner of a massive social media following; Instagram is by far Garcia’s most popular social media account with 7.8m followers, followed by Tik Tok with 4.8m and then Twitter with 75.5k. With youth on his side, great endorsements, and a social media following as big as any pop star, I see no reason for Garcia to step in the ring with a fighter as dangerous as Gervonta Davis.
Davis isn’t a fighter known for jabbing his way to a twelve round decision. Davis is a fighter known for hurting his opponents and, many times, knocking them out. The last thing Garcia needs is to be on a Davis highlight reel getting KO’d in spectacular fashion and Davis doing a backflip over her lifeless body. Why take the risk?
With all the risks considered, we still surprisingly have a fight. My hat goes off to Ryan Garcia, who could, in my estimation, ride his social following all the way to the bank for some time. With a new wave of Youtube stars now becoming boxing attractions, one would easily assume options would be endless for a guy like Ryan Garcia, yet he is not taking that path; this kid is truly striving for greatness.
A breath of fresh air in a boxing world that has become business first. As the youngins say, “secure the bag.” Most narratives today that circulate in the “Youtube-verse” are definitely in favor of the fighter. If one dares to mention the money fighters have made in an attempt to put accountability on fights not being made on the fighters, well, you’re just a pocket watch-in hater.
The disaster negotiation that was between Terrence Crawford and Errol Spence left fight fans feeling a way I’ve never felt before. I was extremely annoyed by the whole thing and, for lack of a better word, was left with “boxing blue balls” ever since.
This fight has been billed as a starting point for the new-age fighter taking over. With the youngins in charge, fight fans are hoping that we’ll see our favorite fighters face each other in the ring before they’re near the ends of their careers.
Pulling Back The Curtain:
Let’s talk about some of the obvious narratives at play in this fight. Some talking points may be taboo, but hey, the elephants in the room must be addressed. This fight has all the intrigue needed to garner the interest of not just fight fans but casuals as well as a demographic of general pop culture.
Davis being a boxing sensation that certainly has the attention of the hip demo, vs. Ryan Garcia, who’s bringing in an entirely different demographic. This makes for a collision that should be profitable to all parties involved, as well as a fest of content for fight fans to quarrel over on Youtube.
Inner City Kid vs. Suburban kid:
Gervonta Davis, no doubt, brings that inner-city energy. A kid from the inner city streets of Baltimore, Maryland, finds his way to a boxing gym, and the rest is history. Versus Ryan Garcia, a fighter with a background seen as more traditional. Raised in Victorville, California, a suburb of San Bernardino County just outside of Los Angeles, in a two-parent household.
All implications apply. Davis has certainly brought the energy in the two press conferences we’ve had the past week. Repeatedly getting in Ryan’s face and even going as far as putting his hands in Garcia’s face multiple times. To be completely honest, Garcia hasn’t responded well to the energy, in my estimation. So I ask the question, can the kid who’s, had his dad in his corner his whole life and has been put on a pedestal because of his good looks and Instagram following beat the tough inner-city kid raised in the dog house of Mayweather gym?
Ryan’s validation as a fighter:
Despite having a stellar amateur career (215-15) and being a 15-time National Champion, Garcia has fought for legitimacy as a professional boxer. I’m not sure how much of that is his fault, however, the fact still remains there are many fans that see Ryan as a social media star more than a fighter who’s a legitimate contender.
Ryan’s Hollywood looks can be considered somewhat a gift and a curse, landing endorsements that most fighters with far more accomplishment could only dream of. Even Ryan having a shot at Davis with no belt in the eyes of many is another testament to Ryan being given an opportunity that he hasn’t earned in the ring. This will be Ryan’s chance to not only legitimize himself as a world class fighter, but a win will also propel him to a level of stardom many boxers will never see.
Does Ryan’s social media following translate to PPV buys?
One of the main selling points when it comes to Garcia has always been his social media following, but does it translate to PPV buys? The naysayers say, “teenage girls don’t buy PPVs.” Those in favor of Garcia point to the success of those like Jake Paul, who’s been able to put on big events in boxing with not much more than his social media following.
If the PPV buys for this fight reach numbers that exceed projections, it’ll be safe to say that having a strong social media following directly translates to PPV buys. For many, it’s been a reason for resentment when it comes to Garcia. At this point, it hasn’t been proven whether or not Garcia’s baby face means PPVs. Do teenage girls buy PPVs? We shall see.
Black vs. Latino rivalry:
Yes, Yes, Yes. We love the black vs. Latino rivalry in boxing. One of the biggest fights I could remember as a kid was Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Pernell Whittaker. This fight had all the racial stigmas written all over it. From legendary big named fights like Mayweather vs. Dela Hoya to smaller named fights we see today, such as Rashidi Ellis vs. Roiman Villa, this rivalry almost always makes for a great fight.
More than the cultural difference, it’s the traditional clash of styles. Most black fighters adopt a style that involves being elusive, “hit and not be hit,” and most Latin fighters adopt the tough come forward style. This style collision has made for some of the best fights in boxing history. Always sure to rally fans from each side. This rivalry brings out the best and worst in boxing.
I expect this to be an event that brings out all the stars. From what I’m told, the price of admission is astronomical. That said, I expect to see diamond choker chains as far as the eye can see. As for me, I’m already getting calls from friends who never watch boxing asking about the fight. Finally, boxing does something right. See you April 22nd.