There are some criteria when it comes to the signing of a fight that qualifies it as one that might be a classic encounter that might be talked about for years to come. One among them is when you get two rising stars with significant fan followings, who are both approaching their athletic primes to face off against each other. When you also add into the equation stats such as both being unbeaten and each having crowd pleasing styles, you have the ingredients for not only hype, but also what just might be a great fight.
Such criteria exists in the upcoming catchweight battle between undefeated former Jr. Lightweight world champion Gervonta Davis and undefeated former Lightweight turned Jr. Welterweight contender Ryan Garcia. A showdown between two of Boxing rising stars that will take place at a 138lb. catchweight, but essentially for all intents and purposes will be occuring in the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division, five pounds above the 135lb. Lightweight division where until recently both Davis and Garcia had fought many of their bouts. The bout between the two will take place on April 22 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV and can be seen in the United States on both DAZN Pay-Per-View and Showtime Pay-Per-View as well as internationally as part of a standard streaming subscription to DAZN.
This is an encounter between two fighters who have shown the ability to score quick knockouts, but one where one fighter, Davis is known for his punching power. What can be a bit deceiving about Davis is in actuality, he is a well-rounded boxer/puncher who, like his opponent in this fight Ryan Garcia, has shown that he can do a little of everything inside the ring.
In thinking of how this fight could go, this observer started thinking of the differences between the two fighters rather than their similarities. Although Davis has fought as high as 140lbs. before in earning Interim/Regular champion status in the World Boxing Association's (WBA) ratings in both the Lightweight and Jr. Welterweight divisions after being a unified world champion in the Jr. Lightweight division, he will be going against a fighter in Garcia that has over five inches in height over him at 5'10 and a three inch reach advantage. While that may seem like Garcia might have the edge over him, the reality is we won't know until the two fighters are in the ring in the midst of battle. Where Davis has an indisputable advantage over his opponent is the fact that he is a former world champion and has fought a higher caliber of opposition as compared to Garcia, who has yet to fight for a world championship in his career beyond fighting for an interim designation when he was still a Lightweight.
Garcia however, is no stranger to overcoming adversity. Some may recall in January 2021, Garcia scored the biggest win of his career in knocking out former world title challenger Luke Campbell after being knocked down for the first time in his career in that fight. Despite appearing to possibly be on the verge of fighting for a world championship after that fight, Garcia, who has been open about his struggles with mental health chose to take time off to address some of those struggles he had been dealing with, something that he should be commended for in putting his health and well-being as the main priority over further lucrative opportunities or world championships. Since returning to the ring in April of last year, Garcia has remained unbeaten, but with his return came a move up in weight to the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division as well as a new trainer in the legendary Joe Goosen.
While Garcia clearly passed the test that Luke Campbell had given him two years ago, and keeping in mind that he has shown no negative effects from his hiatus in terms of inside the ring, this will likely be the most significant test in his career in his twenty-fourth professional fight. Garcia is also facing a fighter in Davis that has twenty-six knockouts in his twenty-eight career wins. The challenge for Garcia here will be both dealing with the magnitude of the event in this being the first time he is fighting on something akin to a world championship level, but also to deal with Davis' punching power, which can come out of nowhere at times and be quite explosive when it does.
Garcia having the guidance of Joe Goosen in this fight will likely be a strong asset because having trained many world champions in a Hall of Fame career, Goosen is certainly experienced in bringing fighters to the top level of the sport and Garcia will likely need a calm voice in his ear as he tries to navigate both the event/hype and a very dangerous opponent in Davis across the ring.
While it is logical to expect Davis to try and systematically walk Garcia down as he has done to several of his previous opponents, it is crucial that Garcia find a way to get the respect of Davis early in this fight, but must do so tactically. Though it may be tempting at some point during this fight especially if he is able to have success early to trade shot for shot with Davis, the logical approach for Garcia will be to box and try to take advantage of any openings Davis might leave him.
Although Garcia was able to get up from being knocked down by Luke Campbell, he will now be facing a fighter in Davis, who hits harder with both hands and there are likely some who will question how Garcia will stand up to Davis' power if Davis is able to land flush. Gervonta Davis does have underrated Boxing ability, which would likely surprise some if he chose to box rather than looking for a chance to end the fight if an opportunity arises, but logic would suggest that he will likely spend the early rounds studying what Garcia will bring as Garcia will likely try to do the same.
An element that has brought this fight to fruition is the fact that two networks Showtime, who is aligned with the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) group of prompters who promote Davis and DAZN who are aligned with Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions who promote Garcia are each involved in the distribution of this pay-per-view event on their respective streaming platforms as well as cable/satellite pay-per-view. While on one hand the fact that it takes two networks who have exclusivity with the respective promoters to make a fight like this happen is a flaw of the business of the sport, perhaps another flaw could be both networks counting on the fact that both fighters have significant fan followings/social media presence in thinking that will translate into pay-per-view revenue at the same inflated price points that have turned many consumers in the United States and even elsewhere off. With DAZN a subscription -based digital streaming network that was marketed as an alternative to the pay-per-view model insisting that they will only use pay-per-view sparingly when they have no other alternative, and Showtime continuing to rely heavily on the pay-per-view model, despite dwindling returns including most recently, the David Benavidez-Caleb Plant bout, which only generated 49,000 total buys at a $74.99 price point, you do have to wonder, despite all the hype surrounding this fight if consumers will be willing to buy it at an $84.99 price point for most consumers. A question that is especially valid when one considers the rantings of many on social media directed at both networks that they will look for a third-party streaming option rather than paying for it legally.
While the issue of piracy is something that should not be condoned, it is an issue that unfortunately is not going to go away even as many in Boxing continue to rely on a model that consumers with only very rare exceptions continue to reject. Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia checks just about every box a Boxing fan could ask for in terms of what could be an exciting bout, perhaps it will take a fight like this that has been heavily promoted and hyped to underperform to finally convince those making decisions at the networks that it is time to change. It would be sad for a fight that has been hyped as one that will "Save Boxing" turns out to be yet another example of the need to change the model to subscription-based options that fans/consumers are more likely to embrace, especially if this turns out to be a truly great fight.
"And That's The Boxing Truth."
Davis vs. Garcia takes place on Saturday, April 22 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The card can be seen on both Showtime Pay-Per-View and DAZN Pay-Per-View in the United States and Canada for $84.99 beginning at 8PM ET/5PM PT and will be available on both the Showtime and DAZN streaming apps on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices/Smart TVs as well as traditional cable/satellite providers. To order through Showtime to watch via the Showtime app please visit: www.SHO.com/PPV. To order on DAZN please visit: www.DAZN.com for ordering information and to verify access in your region of the world either through pay-per-view or through a standard DAZN subscription.
*Card and start time subject to change*
*Check your local listings internationally for local start time.*
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