There are few things more overwhelming than the tornado that forms when two pugilists circle each other for months, and even years, before finally engaging each other in the ring. Right now, between King Vasiliy Lomachenko, Teófimo López, Devin Haney, Shakur Stevenson, Ryan Garcia, and Gervonta Davis, the lightweight division is a looming sharknado. With so many young fighters in their early 20s, they’ll spend the next few years sorting out this Rubix cube of young, rising boxers. However, Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs) and Tank Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) appear to be on a collision course in the Hadron Collider.
In his match on Saturday against 33-year-old Javier Fortuna (37-4-1, 26 KOs), Garcia, 23, floored the former lightweight champion three times, including a left hook to Fortuna’s head that left him woozy for the 10-count.
The overconfidence oozes out of Garcia. The Canelo Álvarez protege didn’t bask in the glow of his victory for long, telling DAZN’s Chris Mannix after his win, “I’m not going back down to 135 for nothing, but I will fight ‘Tank’ (Davis) next.”
Minutes later, Davis responded succinctly through Twitter.
Both Davis and Garcia occupy boxing’s incubation chamber. Managers are reluctant to risk their undefeated boxers getting near a pinprick that deflates their ballooning value. Fighting one another would be the first big fight either has gotten. This isn’t Errol Spence and Terence Crawford maximizing their brands before squaring up. Garcia and Davis have been knocking around tomato cans and been accused of evading tougher opponents. Garcia has been transfixed on a match against Davis for a while now and they appear to finally be poised to throw down. Between the two of them, Garcia and Davis have logged 44 stoppages in 50 professional bouts. It’s a fight every boxing aficionado wants to see.
Even Mike Tyson got in on instigating the Ryan-Davis tornado during Garcia’s appearance on his Hotboxin’ podcast. Garcia was doing his part to do publicity for his fight against Fortuna, but his mind was on Davis, who FaceTimed in.
However, Garcia had the high ground. He’s a long-winded, marketable attention economy influencer who lives on Instagram where he’s accumulated 9 million followers and promotes at a louder frequency than the more terse Davis. Garcia makes Davis look small. Nonetheless, fists have to do the talking eventually. All that gusto has to manifest into a tangible reality.
Garcia’s vow to fight Davis became the headline, but there’s one caveat in the fine print of his post-match harangue that could thrust this fight into development hell. “I’m not going back down to 135 for nothing, but I will fight ‘Tank’ next. If ‘Tank’ wants it at 140 … let’s get it.”
The designated weight is bound to be a point of contention in the negotiations. The 5-foot-5 Davis is already giving up five inches to the towering Garcia and three inches in reach. Garcia is the naturally larger fighter. Of all the lightweight sharks, Garcia has the second-highest knockout ratio to Davis and even that statistic undervalues Garcia’s power. In his last fight before Fortuna, Garcia outboxed Emmanuel Tagoe for 12 rounds in his first fight since surgeons repaired his right wrist.
Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, Garcia’s promotion company, and Davis’ mentor, Floyd Mayweather are likely going to quibble over this for months. It may ultimately prove to be an impasse. The aforementioned Crawford and Spence super fight only came to fruition after the former separated from Top Rank. Davis is still repped by Premier Boxing Champions, who are known to keep the boxers in their stable out of reach from upper echelon fighters who can put a dent in their records.
Garcia threw Lopez’s name out there as an alternative for Davis if the fight can’t be made, but he’s a guppie at 140 pounds. Lopez has fought for title belts in his last few fights–especially since he dismantled Lomachenko in October 2021. For him, it’s Davis or bust.
Garcia and Davis have been gravitating towards one another on the forecast as a Category 5, but it might dissipate into a gust of hot air. The politics of a hybrid deal between Golden Boy’s DAZN and PBC’s deal with Showtime or Fox pay-per-view may be insurmountable. Ironically, the obstacle is that neither name is big enough for these opposing networks to split their revenues between one another.
Garcia-Davis don’t have brand names yet and they don’t have brand names because their promotion companies have wrapped them in protective styrofoam. The consequence of that overprotectiveness is that it’s almost impossible for competing promotions to book fights between these two burgeoning fighters because it’s not worth doing so for two fighters who haven’t proven they can attract viewers as the main event. It’s that type of snake eating its own tail business paradox which has turned boxing into a second-class sport and ironically kept up-and-comers like Davis and Garcia from blowing up.
Boxing is beating itself up, but it doesn’t have to be this way for Garcia and Davis. The fight game is looking for disruptors and these two can turn the lightweight division into the most must-see non-heavyweight classification since Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran were duking it out as middleweights in the 1980s.