While Floyd Mayweather’s final fight is the headliner, an exciting new crop of boxers will also be on display Saturday night in Las Vegas, led by burgeoning superstar Gervonta “Tank” Davis.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 22-year-old American, who is quickly establishing himself as a must-watch fighter every time he steps into the ring:
1. He Was Taken From His Parents as a Young Boy
Growing up in Baltimore, Davis faced a difficult childhood. Both of his parents were drug users, and as such, he spent much of his youth living in foster care or with relatives.
“I was taken from my mother and father when I was 4 or 5 years old,” he says.
As cliche as it might sound, the boxing gym served as a refuge from the often dangerous streets, and Davis began boxing just a couple years after he was separated from his parents.
“I was in the gym by the time I was 7, and I was there all the time, so I didn’t have time to run the streets.”
2. He’s Trained by Calvin Ford
That name may not sound familiar, but Dennis “Cutty” Wise might ring a bell. Ford, who was once a part of the Boardley-Burrows drug organization in West Baltimore in the 1980’s, is the inspiration behind “The Wire” character.
“If I had to shoot you, I’d shoot you,” Ford recalls. “If I had to stab you, I’d stab you. If I had to beat you up with my hands, I’d beat you up with my hands.”
After being convicted of racketeering and conspiracy, Ford served 10 years in federal prison, where he learned how to box. He began coaching upon his release and eventually met a young Davis.
“I think we needed each other,” Ford said. “In a sense, we saved each other. I may have been looking out for him, but by being there, he kept me out of trouble, too.”
3. He’s One of the Best Young Boxers in the World
It was immediately clear that Davis was going to be a success. As an amateur, he won two National Junior Olympics gold medals, three National Silver Gloves Championships and the 2012 National Golden Gloves championship.
“When I was young, I was always being punished most of the time,” said Davis. “But when I was in the gym and when we were traveling, I was getting all the attention because I was good at something.”
As a professional, he’s been just as dominant. Leading up to Saturday’s fight against Francisco Fonseca, “Tank” is 18-0-0 with 17 knockouts. He won the IBF World Junior Lightweight title with a seventh-round TKO of Jose Pedraza in January 2017 and easily defended against Liam Walsh in May:
BoxRec ranks Davis as the No. 5 lightweight in the world.
4. His Mentor is Floyd Mayweather Jr.
As Davis was quickly rising the professional ranks, he turned many heads, including that of one of the best boxers of all-time. He and Mayweather met during a press event in Washington D.C., and after Davis trained in front of Mayweather, he was instantly invited to join “The Money Team.”
“Since I’ve signed with Floyd, it seems like it’s going fast, but I like it,” Davis said. “I’m getting the right exposure I need as an up-and-coming fighter. It’s not too fast, and it’s not too slow.”
Not only do Mayweather and Davis have a lot of similarities in how they grew up, but the latter is able to offer important perspective as a multi-world champion.
“I’ve been navigating (Davis) for years,” Ford said, “so he’s always gonna hear my voice. But Floyd’s been to that land I haven’t been to. So he have to listen to him.”
5. He Was Stripped of His Title in August 2017
Prior to defending his IBF World Super Featherweight title against Francisco Fonseca on the undercard of Mayweather vs. McGregor, Davis missed weight and was thus stripped of his title.
Though the fight will proceed as expected, Davis can’t win the title with a victory.
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