The war of words is over. The weighty matter of Friday’s weigh-in and the Saturday morning rehydration check is all that stands between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia settling the score in the ring Saturday, April 22 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
For a non-title fight outside the heavyweight division, the attention on this fight is invigorating and has energized the boxing community. Its key accomplishment could be planting seeds among a new generation of fans that will grow and flourish. Let's add some water to those seeds.
Modern boxing news conferences like Davis vs. Garcia are an entertainment production for fights on this scale. They do not resemble a traditional news conference of the sort you might see when a governor or police chief stands at the podium fielding questions from all directions. As such, they don’t often generate real news.
Davis and Garcia appear locked in. Their initial statements reflected this, although they got a bit more fired up under inquiries from MC Brian Custer.
Ellerbe and De La Hoya: Marinating for 16 Years
The real show Thursday went down between longtime foes Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Boxing. These two men have history, and the hard feelings stemming from Floyd Mayweather’s defeat of De La Hoya as the B-side to Oscar’s A-side are still present 16 years later. This is De La Hoya’s opportunity for revenge through Garcia. The Hall of Famer came out swinging.
“I believe that whoever wins this fight will be the new king of the sport. And I'm happy that you're all here to see it,” De La Hoya began, saying he understands what it takes to fight at this level.
“I look at Ryan, I know he’s ready. Ryan's team, they know he’s ready. I look at Tank, he’s ready.
“When I look at ‘Tank’s’ team’s action throughout the whole promotion, I am left to wonder, ‘Do they really think this guy is ready?’,” continued De La Hoya.
“Catchweights and rehydration clauses. Late afternoon weigh-ins. All these small petty requirements point to a team looking to protect their fighter, and why would they protect their fighter, unless they don’t think he’s ready for this moment? I really believe that ‘Tank’s’ team is worried he’s going to lose. When you’re a fighter, nothing feels worse than your team not believing in you.”
“Then you look at Ryan, He was so hungry, so willing, so ready for this stage. He simply said yes to every request no matter what it was. That is a confident fighter. That is a fighter who is ready. And that’s why you’re going to see Ryan come out as the new face of boxing on Saturday night.”
Ellerbe took offense, although he came from a standing start in his longstanding dislike for De La Hoya. He didn’t hesitate to counterpunch.
“First off, I do believe in Tank one thousand percent. When it comes to you, you have no room to talk about anything. We’ve been the A-side in this situation and that’s how the A-side carries itself,” spat Ellerbe.
“You’ve been sleeping at the fucking wheel for many years. That’s why we took all your fucking fighters. Floyd beat them all while you’ve been asleep at the wheel. It will be no different this Saturday night. Tank Davis by KO like I’ve been saying. And it might be early,” concluded Ellerbe.
I caught up with Ellerbe later and asked him to describe what happened. Ellerbe said he didn’t think it would turn out like that.
“I do not like that dude! I do not like that dude! I put that on everything,” said Ellerbe. “We do business, but we cannot stand that dude.”
Ellerbe felt De La Hoya was being hypocritical, because he demanded concessions from Mayweather in their 2007 as the A-side fighter, just as Davis has now. “He dictated everything. We knew what it was, we’ve got to take it.”
“I give him the utmost respect. And I’m still going to respect his accomplishments. Hall of Fame Fighter. He fought everybody. Great fighter, give him all the props. But as a person? Trash! I’m feeling a certain kind of way because he took me there. I was sitting there – I was like, ‘where is that coming from?’” laughed Ellerbe.
“It’s not about us, it’s about our fighter. I work with Tank. This is about Tank. We’re going to do everything we can to elevate him to put him in the best situation possible. (Oscar) did everything he possibly could to not make this fight happen. Because he didn’t want this fight to happen.”
UPDATE: Speaking with Oscar De La Hoya at an event hosted by RING Magazine, De La Hoya expressed surprise about Ellerbe's reaction. “I didn't expect to get such a rise out of him! Let it go man, it's been 16 years!” De La Hoya said of their long-running feud.
Goosen's Words Carry Weight
The last word here comes from Garcia’s trainer, Joe Goosen. After decades in boxing, known for his work with Diego Corrales, Shane Mosley, Amir Khan, Michael Nunn, and Malik Scott, Goosen’s word carries weight. When Goosen talks, it’s a good idea to listen.
“The real fight will be Saturday night between two great fighters. The interest in this has been unbelievable,” Goosen began.
“Ryan Garcia is one of the most uniquely talented fighters I’ve ever been involved with in a half a century. People that know me, know I don’t mess around. I‘ve never seen anyone train as hard, as focused as he is. He has a deep faith and a deep faith in himself as well. I can’t say enough great things about him. He will bring the best of himself to the ring Saturday night.”
“At the end of the day, the two guys gotta get in there Saturday night, and the fans are the winners. It’s going to be a great fight,” said Ellerbe. No matter who you're backing, everyone can agree on this. Would it be wrong to hope for a razor-thin, hotly disputed split decision after 12 rounds of action – if it forced an equally entertaining rematch? And trilogy? Don't hate us for it.