Don't believe for one second that Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia will be wagering their full purses this Saturday night as they clash in what is the biggest event of the boxing calendar in the first half of 2023 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Personally, I don't think boxers should engage in such bets. They should always get paid for their hard work prior and the risk of getting inside the squared circle. Pretty sure the commissions balk at such activities, too, as things could get awfully messy in these situations.
But the fact of the matter is both 'Tank' and 'KingRy' are already putting up a lot this weekend.
The winner of this bout clearly becomes the front runner to become the biggest name in boxing post-Canelo Alvarez (who is now in the twilight of his Hall-of-Fame career), and will consistently be able to command eight-figure purses, and to the younger generation of boxing fans, be the face of the sport.
More importantly, they are putting their reputations on the line.
For Davis (28-0, 26 KOs), this could mark his entry as a bona-fide crossover star in the sport. While he's had some solid wins in the past, he's never truly had that 'name' victory on his resume'. Make no doubt about it, he is already an attraction. There aren't many fighters in America that could do the large gates he has in various cities the way he has from Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Atlanta, DC and Baltimore.
Esther Lin, Showtime Sports
There has been some doubts on his status as a three-division champion. Truth be told, his most legitimate claim came as he won the IBF 130-pound title by bludgeoning the respected Jose Pedraza in seven rounds back in 2017. His other belts have been of the 'reggie' variety with the WBA in the safe confines of the PBC hand-picked foes.
Regardless, there is no denying his fan-friendly style and offensive arsenal. He has a propensity for losing more rounds than most boxers who are considered elite, but he has found ways to simply over-power most of his opponents. Davis will lose a few battles, but he's won every war thus far in his professional career.
He is the betting favorite in this contest. But lets say he does not come out victorious, you wonder if his reputation could ever recover from losing to a guy who many of his fans believes is more suited to being in a boy band than boxing.
As for Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs), for him this is an opportunity to show that he is indeed as much steak as sizzle. If there has ever been a boxing star that has been created in the social media era, and through the internet, it is the telegenic young man from Victorville, California. He has matinee idol looks, and a flashy style, with that he has been able to appeal to a different type of audience.
His detractors will say he's more influencer than prizefighter, but that's unfair, given that he did have a legitimate amateur career, and then began his pro run on small local cards in Tijuana. Yes, he has been protected a bit given his status and popularity but he does have some decent wins under his belt. Jake Paul, this isn't. You could argue some steps have been skipped with Garcia, but dues have been paid.
But the question is just how will he handle being the underdog for the first time in his career versus a legitimate puncher? Then you have the factor of the catch-weight (136 pounds) and the rehydration clause, all of which favor the much shorter and stockier southpaw. We wont know who will come out victorious in this fight for a few days, but it's clear that Davis' side won this negotiation as they exploited Garcia's zeal to make this bout.
Esther Lin, Showtime Sports
On the other hand, you could argue that such stipulations are evidence that Davis is actually threatened by the size and quick-twitch left hook of Garcia. It's an admission that he's a much more dangerous threat than Mario Barrios.
Credit to both boxers, while the negotiations were oftentimes contentious and all-too-public, they got the deal done. In an era where many big fights are often delayed to the point of over-marination, or simply don't happen, at all, Davis (28 years old) and Garcia (24) will be meeting in their physical primes.
That in itself, is a victory for everyone involved.
Ever since this match-up was first brought up several years ago, I heavily favored 'Tank'. The feeling was that back around 2019 and 2020, this was a young man versus a boy. Now in 2023, the feeling is that the gap in physical maturity has closed (evidenced by the weight clauses demanded by Davis) and there are some advantages held in length and speed/quickness held by Garcia.
I expect Garcia to win some early rounds, perhaps even build a lead throughout the first half of the bout. Davis will be relatively cautious, not wanting to get zapped by Garcia's trademark counter left hook. But as was stated earlier, Davis will not panic but he will start to pick his spots more and more, and slowly gather momentum.
Esther Lin, Showtime Sports
And yes, over time, the catch-weight could have a negative impact on Garcia and his legs. The best chance for him to win this fight is to catch Davis early. I personally do not believe he has the technical discipline to box him for 36 minutes. My view is that the longer this fight goes on, the more it favors Davis and his heavy hands. Also, I'm not a fan of Garcia deciding to bypass a late January tune-up, while Davis faced Hector Luis Garcia, halting him in nine rounds on January 7.
I'm predicting a Davis knockout victory between rounds eight and ten.
Tanks take awhile to get rolling, but once they do, they are difficult to stop.