By Paul Magno | May 30, 2022

It’s not too often that I can say a fight turned out absolutely, entirely, exactly as I imagined it would. But Gervonta “Tank” Davis vs. Rolando “Rolly” Romero was one of those fights.

Romero’s—and I’ll be diplomatic here—very unrefined skill set made him an awkward opponent for Davis and, predictably, he gave him fits at times. Also predictably, Davis eventually landed something huge that ended the evening. 

One of Rolly’s biggest flaws was his penchant for leaving his chin high up in the air during exchanges and that was destined to be the flaw that led to defeat. And, as things turned out, it WAS the flaw that led to defeat. Davis’ big left hand knocked him down late in the sixth round and separated him from the land of the non-goofy long enough to force a referee stoppage. 

Romero did as well as anyone could’ve expected. He tried to do what he had to do and brought his outside-the-ring bravado into the ring. He worked the jab to the best of his ability, threw hard, and showed no respect for Davis. He just wasn’t good enough and that’s certainly no knock on a guy facing one of the pound-for-pound top talents in the world. 

Tank Davis, despite being frustrated and handcuffed at times by Romero’s mugging non-style, is a special talent whose level of “specialness” was going to show sooner or later. And, as we saw, that first flash of greatness was more than enough to get past Romero. 

Ring performance aside, Tank’s return to Barclays Center in Brooklyn was an unequivocal success, drawing a record 18,970 to the venue and setting a record for the highest grossing boxing event in their 40-card history. The pay-per-view numbers may tell a different story than the live gate numbers, but there’s no denying that Davis is a legitimate draw and he has a track record of big-draw event-making wherever he goes. There’s even a case to be made that he’s currently the biggest, best-drawing American boxing star on the scene. 

Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe had some sobering words after the fight and touched on something I was planning to write in this very column this week.

“The sport is bigger than the die-hard fans,” Ellerbe told reporters at the post-fight press conference, commenting on criticisms leveled at Davis for not yet fighting any of the other top-ranked lightweights. “The fans will pay to see what they want to see, not what you want to see.”

There’s a huge nugget of truth in that slap-in-the-face statement. 

Most of the boxing consumer base does not care one bit about belts or if there’s a unified champ or one champ per division. The fans who make up the vast majority of the paying public don't care about any of those boxing nerd laments. They just want to be entertained and they want a star. THAT is what they pay for-- the star power. Boxing has always been a star-driven sport...ESPECIALLY now. 

When boxing thrives, it’s because casual fans have been enticed to make impulse buys. The casual fan money carries the sport to an insane degree and it always has. These people don’t dwell on the minutiae of the boxing business, they just want the boxing. 

There’s a lesson to be learned in all of this. 

Maybe the hardcore fans and the boxing media would be of greater benefit to boxing if they just focused on the sport and not all of the politics, business, and organizational stuff. I’m just as guilty of dwelling on boxing nerd stuff as anyone—maybe more so. That’s probably something I need to work on. The reality is that not that many people care about anything other than the actual fighting. If there’s a discrepancy between the big fights and what we know to be the best fights, that’s our fault for not helping the casual fans see why the best should be the biggest.

Whatever the case, the future is bright for Tank Davis. There are a number of big fights out there for the 27-year-old, but the truth is that, for the most part, Tank Davis makes the fights big. That’s a pretty nice position to be in and one that should be an open door to making that jump to next-level stardom. 

Whether he makes his next moves under the Mayweather Promotions banner remains to be seen, however. In interviews prior to this fight, he made it known that this was his last under contract to the Floyd Mayweather promotional company and that he planned to move on. Most recently, he kinda, sorta walked back those statements and, post-fight, Leonard Ellerbe painted the picture of a Tank Davis still happily promoted by Mayweather Promotions. But, then again, Floyd Mayweather no-showed this card with the only explanation being that he had “a family emergency.”

So, who knows with all of that? 

The thing is that Davis has options and, much to the consternation of boxing nerds and website experts, his bankability is not tied to fighting for belts or against the fighters who top secret society boxing rankings. Tank draws because he’s a damn entertaining fighter. 

Meanwhile, Rolando Romero, who insisted that he won every round, said that he hurt Davis multiple times, claimed bias by the ref, and called for an immediate rematch in the post-fight press conference, ensured a few more paydays and opportunities with his ability to hype the fight beforehand and put on a show inside the ring. 

There were some comparisons made to Ricardo Mayorga leading up to the fight and I see where all that’s coming from. Rolly, who fights under the Mayweather Promotions banner, has real headline-making, shit-talking ability and carries enough power into the ring to make him a plausible threat. At the very worst, this promotion and fight made him a bankable B-side bad guy for a good long while. 

All in all, both Davis and Romero came out winning Saturday night. One could argue that boxing came out winning, too. It wasn’t a mega-fight or a super, ultra unification bout, it was even better—just a simple, entertaining boxing match with an explosive finish. Just what the fans want.

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