Late Sunday, Showtime Boxing confirmed the first notable card scheduled for Saturday, January 7, in Washington DC would proceed as planned. News media received the full Fight Week schedule of events. It includes a media workout on Wednesday and the final pre-fight news conference on Thursday.
Those won't be awkward or anything, will they?
To ensure you're up to date: during a boxing news desert the last week of the year, WBA World Lightweight world champion Gervonta “Tank Davis” was arrested and booked on suspicion of a misdemeanor count of domestic abuse against the mother of one of his two daughters. Davis vehemently denied it via Instagram. Friday, the reported victim recanted her frantic 911 call made public by TMZ, also via Instagram.
The original reports put the network and promoters in a tough spot, given their decision to remove Rolly Romero as an opponent for Davis in a planned December 6, 2021 bout in Los Angeles after sexual assault allegations surfaced, corroborated by additional women.
On mentioning this debacle, Showtime Boxing executive Stephen Espinoza firmly pushed back. He quoted a RING Magazine article claiming Romero voluntarily “withdrew.”
Showtime Boxing media statements at the time characterized the removal of Romero as its decision in conjunction with Premier Boxing Champions and Mayweather Promotions. Respected boxing journalists, including Dan Rafael and Keith Idec, reported on Romero's removal. Believing Rolly Romero would voluntarily give up the most significant payday of his career over allegations that hadn't yet resulted in an arrest or charges is a non-starter, to me.
What Did We Know and When Did We Know It?
In the three days between Davis's arrest and the victim's statement recanting the incident, there was no lack of opinions on what should happen and no shortage of pushback by those who disagreed with those opinions.
Given the victim's statement, Showtime Boxing executives faced a far simpler decision to continue the card versus having the specter of the arrest and pending charges looming over Davis alone to deal with. Social media aside, the legal system has not formally announced its plans.
Not a single person – not journalists, video jockeys, or fans with a microphone or camera – has first-person, direct, accurate knowledge about what happened. Not a single one. None of them were present. Neither were you. Few likely have formal law enforcement experience or legal training. Assess accordingly.
As fight week gets underway, the discussion was whether “boxing” should be doing something about domestic violence. “Boxing must take a stand against domestic violence,” reads one headline. Advocates point out the NFL and MLB both suspended star athletes over their violent acts off the field of play this past year. The NBA and NHL also have policies governing their athletes over domestic violence issues. These leagues had also looked the other way or levied little more than symbolic punishment when offenses became public knowledge.
In the case of Davis, it's possible his sanctioning organization, the World Boxing Association (WBA), could take action. Under Section C, Rule 27, Title Vacation and/or Rule of Recognition, “A boxer's title, status, or recognition may be lost, removed, or vacated for any of the following reasons: a. Loss in a bout (see Rule C.15); b. Violation of Association rules; or, c. Suspension, charges, or criminal conduct alleged or found by a national, state, or provincial agency.”
Fans Get To Make The Call
Fans don't need to wait on anyone involved in boxing's hierarchy. They surely don't need to pay attention to anyone on this website, ESPN, YouTube, or Twitter Spaces. Fans have the freedom to render their judgment. Fans possess the power to take a stand on their own and decide Gervonta Davis' near-term professional destiny for themselves.
When fighters can't draw decent pay-per-view buys, can't sell tickets, don't move merchandise, and aren't drawing social media mentions, they stop getting significant opportunities for big money. Sponsors aren't interested in doing business with them.
Who controls these factors? It's in your hands as a boxing fan.
If you don't care to support an athlete at any skill level because you perceive him to be a bad actor and a poor role model, no one forces you to do so. Showtime Boxing will pay more attention to low PPV buys than Gervonta Davis's troubled personal life, at least up to the point he's incarcerated. Incarceration didn't particularly hurt the popularity of Floyd Mayweather, by the way.
Fans also show indifference when an athlete isn't exciting or interesting enough to interest them. His or her box office value suffers. It's why the skilled but not compelling Demetrius Andrade is on the undercard Saturday. Here's hoping it changes for him at super middleweight in 2023.
Hector Garcia Could Take Advantage
It isn't so simple, though. The co-main event features welterweight Jaron “Boots” Ennis, the flashy undefeated 25-year-old from Philadelphia. Ennis could be boxing's heir to the top spot on the pound-for-pound list. He faces a determined opponent in Karen Chukhadzhian. If you're spending your money to see Boots, it shows up on Tank Davis's ledger, too.
If you choose to spend your boxing budget on this PPV, Davis's situation is a distraction that can't be ignored. Current odds still show Davis as the favorite, but his opponent, Hector Luis Garcia, is coming off two upset victories in 2022. Garcia has all the momentum in the world with nothing to lose. If Davis can't maintain his focus in the ring against his first southpaw opponent in five years, Garcia may be the man rendering the only verdict that counts right now against Davis.