On August 26, Gervonta Davis stepped into the ring in what we now know was the most watched pay-per-view fight night in boxing history, stripped of his IBF junior lightweight belt. If he was resentful of losing his title, he didn’t show it as he stepped into the ring in his white vest with an oversized blue fur around his neck.
The day before the big event, Davis failed to make weight. He stepped on the scale 2lbs over the 130-lb limit for his junior lightweight title defense. His opponent, Francisco Fonseca from Costa Rica, weighed in at exactly 130 lbs. The belt had to come off.
Standing 5’6, the 22-year-old Baltimore native has had difficulty meeting weight in his last two fights this year. In May, Davis needed three attempts to make weight for his first title defense against Liam Walsh in London, finally making weight after stripping his shorts on the third try. On the first try, he was also 2 lbs over the weight limit.
Where he was given three chances in London, Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s protege was slapped the ultimate penalty in Las Vegas. The IBF stripped him of the belt he won by knocking out Jose Pedraza in January at the Barclays Center in New York.
What does Davis’ failure to make weight not once but twice tell us? It paints a picture of a young, highly promising fighter at risk of becoming a liability to promoters even at his prime. Making weight is part of a boxer’s job and a reflection of professionalism and commitment to the sport. The failure to make weight makes the boxer look unprofessional and questions his discipline.
The failure to make weight also costs money. Adrien Broner, another one of Mayweather’s proteges, has been subject to a weight penalty clause in his fight contracts for failing to make weight in previous fights. Had he failed to hit the 140-lb limit for his July 29 bout with Mikey Garcia, Broner would have had been forced to give up $500,000 of his purse per every pound above the weight limit. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was similarly required to pay a $1 million per pound penalty if he failed to make the 160-lbs limit for his fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in May.
Davis tweeted an apology for failing to make weight but social media response was critical.
On fight night, the young boxer who calls himself “Tank” tweeted that he was in “good spirits” and was looking forward to his fight with Fonseca. But the match itself was unremarkable, marked with cringe-worthy moments that fueled comparisons with Adrien “The Problem” Broner.
The fight had a competitive start, but in the second round, Davis appeared to lift Fonseca off the mat while in a clinch, prompting the referee to call a brief timeout and warning both fighters, “we don’t do that.”
In the fourth round, Davis started to taunt Fonseca by putting his arms behind his body But after he was pummeled with sharp combinations by the Costa Rican, Davis started swaying, appearing to mock his opponent.
Davis was once again rocked by heavy shots in the seventh but sealed his victory via a punch to the back of Fonseca’s head – an illegal punch that was unchecked by the referee – and pushing Fonseca down to the mat. While the fight ended with a KO win for Davis, it was a controversial ending to a bout that fell short of Davis’ previous record.
Boxrec shows Davis’ 19-fight record replete with knockout victories, giving him an impressive 95% KO rate. This record reflects his power and aggression, two of the main ingredients for a bright future in boxing. But to last in the sport, talent needs to be matched by professionalism and discipline, because showmanship and eccentric behavior can quickly become old.