PRO boxing is on wobbly legs these days.
When you have welterweight top guns Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. coming up with a litany of excuses not to fight each other, and heavyweight king Tyson Fury choosing to defend the WBC title opposite a faded Derek Chisora instead of former champ Anthony Joshua or counterpart champ Oleksandr Usyk, boxing fans are left with few reasons to cheer.
Oh, there's always those matches involving YouTubers and so-called influencers, but everybody knows they are strictly for comic relief.
Fortunately, all is not lost for the sport as two of the most exciting prospects today have decided to do something rare: give boxing fans the fight they covet.
If plans do not miscarry, undefeated lightweight (135 lbs) stars Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 knockouts) and Gervonta "Tank" Davis (27-0, 25 knockouts) are expected to square off in April 2023 in what is easily the first big fight of the new year.
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While Davis holds the fringe WBA regular lightweight title (a secondary title), the fight with Garcia will be fought at a catchweight, in the vicinity of 136 pounds, with no belt at stake. Weight does not figure to be an issue considering that the fighters have fought to as high as junior welterweight (140 lbs).
The fighters will figure in tune-up bouts. Davis is booked to return to the ring on January 7, in Washington, D.C., and he is actually facing a tough hombre in WBA junior lightweight (130 lbs) champion Hector Garcia of the Dominican Republic. Garcia is 16-0 with 10 knockouts and won the WBA title on August 20 with a decision over Roger Gutierrez. Garcia, though, will be moving up to lightweight for the clash with Davis.
Garcia has yet to name his tune-up foe, but if he and Davis end up winning their warm-up bouts it is all systems go for their highly-anticipated clash.
"I'll be back in the ring January 7," confirmed Davis in his Twitter account. "After that, it's me and Ryan signed, sealed and delivered. Done deal!"
There is still one hiccup: Davis is also scheduled to be tried on December 12 for an alleged hit-and-run incident. On Nov. 5, 2020, Davis was seen leaving the scene of the accident that involved four people. A plea deal that would have placed Davis under house arrest for 60 days instead of jail time was denied by the trial court judge. Davis will face trial that is likely to last for two days.
Davis is facing 14 charges, including failure to immediately return to and remain at the scene of the accident. The result of the trial will be crucial.
Davis, 28, hails from Baltimore and was a former world champ at junior lightweight (130 lbs) before he moved up in weight and collected secondary crowns at lightweight and junior welterweight. He is coming off a six-round, one-punch stoppage victory over Rolando Romero in a lightweight fight held in May.
Garcia, 24, is a native of Los Angeles, California, and turned pro in 2016. He got off to a rip-roaring start but took a break last year to deal with mental health issues. He returned in April with a decision win over Emmanuel Tagoe. Garcia's biggest victory came in January 2021, when he knocked out former Olympian Luke Campbell in seven rounds.
Davis and Garcia are both in the prime of their careers. Unlike Crawford and Spence Jr., who allowed their reluctant promoters and managers to represent them on the negotiating table, Davis and Garcia personally took the lead and brushed aside their dilly-dallying handlers. Davis and Garcia wanted the fight so badly that Showtime (Davis) and DAZN (Garcia) agreed to work together and carry the fight via pay-per-view.
While no world title is at stake, Davis-Garcia is a surefire moneymaker and not a few believe it may even make more money than Crawford-Spence given that both fighters are social media stars. In other words, they know how to sell a fight. Also, Davis and Garcia pack power in their fists and this alone guarantees unadulterated action in the ring.
At 5-foot-11, Garcia towers over the 5-foot-5 Davis. Davis, however, is the better boxer. Both fighters have legitimate one-punch power, but Garcia's hand speed is just lightning-fast. Davis is the slight favorite this early, but this matchup can easily be a 50-50 affair.
Hopefully, what Garcia and Davis did to bring their fight to fruition will rub off on the rest of the stars of the punch-for-pay business. Pro boxing has great fighters, the problem is putting them in the ring together. Politics and self-serving interests are ruining the fight game.