On June 4 in Melbourne, Australia, George Kambosos Jr. and DevinHaney will fight for the undisputed lightweight title.
But no matter who wins, the identity of the world’s top lightweight will be very controversial. Gervonta “Tank” Davis made a statement at the Barclays Center in New York on Saturday, and it was a loud, forceful one: He knocked out Rolando Romero with a crushing left hand 21 seconds remain in the sixth round.
Now that boxing is so disorganized and nearly impossible to follow, even people who follow the sport closely will be at odds as to whether or not the Kambosos-Haney fight is for the undisputed title.
Vasiliy Lomachenko won the WBC in-ring lightweight title, as well as the WBA and WBO belts. On October 17, 2020, he fought Teofimo Lopez who held the IBF title. But in the head-shaking way boxing does things, the WBC declared Lomachenko their diamond champion ahead of the fight, whatever that is. But in an interview with reporters days before the fight, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman said the Lomachenko-Lopez winner would be the WBC champion.
Lopez won that fight, which theoretically made him the undisputed champion, but he lost to Kambosos. Haney won a version of the WBC belt and Davis won a version of the WBA belt.
The point of the swamp is an example of why boxing is so screwed up. There are more great fights happening regularly now than ever before between the best in the world and we don’t even know who wears which belt and how the fighters got it.
While that’s a familiar stomach ache, it’s a case for another day.
The point now is that no one can call themselves the true lightweight champion without going through Davis.
He has good boxing skills and a devastating punching power. He pulverized Romero when he caught him with the shot, although he said he didn’t try to use it to take Romero out.
“The crazy thing is I didn’t throw hard,” Davis said of the knockout punch. “I just threw it and he ran straight into it. I didn’t throw it that hard.”
However, Davis is by far the hardest puncher in the division. He’s now 27-0 and has KO’d 25 of the 27 men he faces. That night he showed more than just power.
Romero boxed well but also used his elbows. Davis as the smaller fighter would have done well to fight on the inside but he would risk being slashed by one of Romero’s elbows. Instead of charging forward relentlessly like the tank it is named after, Davis went on tiptoe and fought from the outside.
He won’t remind anyone of Willie Pep or Floyd Mayweather as a boxer, but he’s more than competent at it, and with his power, that’s far more than enough.
I had doubts about Davis for a long time. His best performance was a star when he defeated Jose Pedraza in 2017 to win a super featherweight belt. He looked like a guy about to take over the sport.
But he never reached that level of performance until Saturday. Pedraza’s win, a seventh-round TKO on Jan. 14, 2017, was his best work as a pro until Saturday against Romero.
He’s shown to be above average at everything and great at batting. He finally answered questions about his skills on Saturday.
There were many question marks about Romero going in. There was little doubt he could punch, but could he take a punch? could he box? Was he more than a slick one-trick pony?
Romero fought over a smart, disciplined fight most of the time. But in the sixth he threw a wild right hand and it was a fatal error. Davis immediately countered with a left and Romero went face first into the ropes in the corner.
Romero got up, but his legs were unsteady and he wasn’t concentrating. Referee David Fields stopped it correctly at 2:39 of the sixth, giving Davis his most impressive win.
Hopefully Davis gets a chance to fight the Kambosos-Haney winner. This fight will be the one that really defines the identity of the world’s best lightweight. Kambosos-Haney is only a semi-final.
There had been momentum at some point before Ryan Garcia suffered from mental health issues and took a break from boxing to have a Davis vs. Garcia fight. But Davis has improved so much that it seems a disparity in Davis’ favor at the moment.
Despite the sanctioning authorities’ goofy dealings with titles that make the sport so difficult to follow, the sport of boxing is in the midst of a spectacular year. Great fights are happening almost weekly now and there are many more to come.
So forget the sanctioning authorities and the idiotic games they play with their belts because they will never stop.
Enjoy the great fights and the great fighters that emerge like Davis.
Boxing is about its fighters and Gervonta “Tank” Davis is one of the best.