This isn't the kind of thing that normally happens in boxing in the 21st century. When two fighters perform at a high level for a period of time and they're in the same weight class, we as fans hope for them to fight. And then we inevitably hear the litany of excuses why the fight can't happen now or won't happen at all.
Boxing sucks that way, to be honest.
It's either problems between the promoters or problems with the networks or this manager doesn't like that promoter or something.
But it's always something.
Not now, though. Not this time. On Thursday, the unexpectedly good news broke that Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia have signed to fight each other in approximately April or May in Las Vegas. The dislike between the parties was ignored. The issue with the broadcasters was resolved.
They will fight sometime next year, though Davis will first take a bout on Jan. 7.
I’ll be back in the ring Jan 7 stay tuned for more details! After that it’s me and Ryan signed sealed delivered…done deal!
— Gervonta Davis (@Gervontaa) November 17, 2022
I’m so pumped this fight is finally in place — I want it more than anything right now. I’ve put in the work, I’m at the prime of my career, and I know I’m going to be the biggest boxer in the world. That legacy starts today🥊 pic.twitter.com/6Hv5y3hwMY
— RYAN GARCIA (@RyanGarcia) November 17, 2022
But then, in short order, Davis and Garcia will meet in a bout being produced and distributed by Showtime Pay Per View.
Welterweights Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. were supposed to be fighting on Saturday, except that they aren't.
Heavyweights Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk should have had a deal signed by now to fight for the undisputed title. They have not, and who knows if they ever will. Instead, we got a ridiculous, meaningless third fight between Fury and Derek Chisora.
That is how things in boxing usually work.
Give all parties credit for overcoming the obstacles and giving the fans what they want, but save most of that love for the fighters. Without them, this wouldn't be happening. The moment that referee Jerry Cantu raised Garcia's arm in victory on July 16 after Garcia stopped Javier Fortuna, he said he wanted to fight Davis.
He waged a relentless Twitter campaign to get it done.
And it got done.
An old adage in boxing holds that when a pair of fighters want to fight — really want to fight — the bout will go down. Well, Davis, 28, and Garcia, 24, both said publicly they wanted it to get done and they wouldn't take no for an answer. This announcement means that two of the sport's elite fighters who have big-time power, excellent boxing skills and large, diverse fan bases, will meet in the center of the ring to determine who's the best and not allow fans to argue over it on social media.
Garcia promoter Oscar De La Hoya has been on the opposite side of these kinds of situations frequently, and the deals didn't get made. He released a statement that was gloating a bit, but which was entirely appropriate given the situation.
"It's high time that those outside the ring stop getting in the way of those who want nothing more than to get into the ring and fight," he wrote.
Amen, Oscar. Amen.
“The fans have been crystal clear that the fight they want is Ryan versus Tank. Golden Boy Promotions and I are proud to be leading the drive to get this fight signed and are excited to get a deal finalized ASAP….” (1/2)
— Oscar De La Hoya (@OscarDeLaHoya) November 17, 2022
“…It’s high time that those outside the ring stop getting in the way of those who want nothing more than to get into the ring and fight. Our motto has always been that the fans come first, and this is just another example of how we’re leading by example.” (2/2)
— Oscar De La Hoya (@OscarDeLaHoya) November 17, 2022
It's hard to understand why these fights are so difficult to make. Pay-per-view sales in boxing are at dreadful levels. Hitting 100,000 sales has now become a reason for a celebration, albeit a minor one. Ticket sales also struggle in the U.S. Matchroom Sport overpriced the tickets for the Canelo Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin fight in September so badly that they had to lower them multiple times. And even a few days before the fight, there were, as they say in the live event business, plenty of good seats still available.
It's odd that it seems necessary to have to say this, but here's some advice for those who run boxing: When the fans — your customers — tell you they want something, believe them. Act on that. Because if you give them what they want, they'll come through and support the event.
The sport is thriving in so many ways in 2022. There are so many great young fighters, interest in the women's game is rising rapidly and the talent level is at a point not seen since maybe the early 1990s or late 1980s.
It's the business end of it where things get complicated. But the fighters are beginning to realize their influence. Garcia insisted the fight be made, and it was. Another good example of this is Devin Haney, who took the short end of the money twice, and traveled to the other side of the world to fight George Kambosos for the lightweight title. Haney didn't say he was a bigger draw or a better ticket seller or too good for Kambosos or any of those inane excuses we hear so much. He wanted the fight and he made it happen. And after winning the undisputed title and defending it, he went on offense again and campaigned for a fight with Vasiliy Lomachenko that is expected to be held in early 2023.
There are plenty of other examples.
But a boxing world where the right fights are made on a regular basis and where good fights fill out undercards is a boxing that will rebound from the self-inflicted wounds of the last 50 or 60 years. There is no sport like it when the two best fighters in the world, or at least the two best in a division, meet for all the marbles while they're at the peaks of their careers.
The energy in the arena when that happens is something you need to experience once in your lifetime. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and a tingle runs through your body. It hits different when it's those kinds of fighters competing for the highest stakes.
Davis-Garcia, or Garcia-Davis, or whatever they will call it, is one of those kinds of fights. This is one of the most exciting fights put together for the fans who have been beaten down and kicked in the stomach repeatedly over the years just because they want to see the best.
Thanks to Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia and a whole group of people behind the scenes who didn't let ego or pride get in the way, we'll get the big fight we've been so desperate to see.
Today is one of those days to proudly admit you're a boxing fan. Let's hope this one does boffo numbers and makes the positive changes this sport so desperately needs.