Local boxing fans are entitled to be both proud of and frustrated by Baltimore fighter Gervonta "Tank" Davis.
Davis, 24, from West Baltimore, has a TV-movie background. His childhood was all too typical of the city's toughest neighborhoods -- parents who served time for drug offenses, being shuttled from home to home, experiencing difficulties in school. But after coming under the guidance of Upton Boxing Center trainer Calvin Ford as a child, Davis developed the skills to become a star in the ring.
Fans have watched Davis, a 5-foot-6 southpaw powerhouse who fights at 130 pounds, compile a 21-0 record (20 wins by knockout).
However, along with the list of vanquished opponents is a string of brushes with the law, which have not landed him in serious trouble.
The legal issues have included a number of traffic citations including driving on a suspended license and at least three reports of physical altercations. One was dismissed in court. Most recently, in a Fairfax County, Va., incident this year, there was an alleged altercation at a mall. Davis said on social media that he voluntarily went to police after hearing of a warrant and plans to put the matter behind him.
Fortunately for Davis, the legal issues haven't derailed his boxing career, although failing to make weight for a 2017 fight cost him his IBF super-featherweight title. Later, he did win the WBA super-featherweight belt in 2018 with a TKO of Jesus Cuellar.
Still, despite winning championship fights twice, there has been a sense among fight fans that Davis has yet to put his stamp on the fight game with a win against a marquee opponent in a glamorous main event bout.
And here's the thing. That may never happen.
Davis is a protégé of Floyd Mayweather Jr., the undefeated boxing legend whose prowess in the ring is undisputedly matched by his talent to make money. His 2017 fight against MMA star Conor McGregor reportedly earned Mayweather $300 million.
Under Mayweather's direction, Davis has been fighting opponents that have hardly challenged the Baltimore boxer. The latest victim, fill-in Hugo Ruiz, went down in the first round in a fight in February.
All the while, Davis' unblemished record does earn him nice paychecks, and there's buzz in the boxing world that his next bout could be worth $5 million.
That might be exactly how Mayweather intends to steer Davis. More money, less risk.
Yet, there is a name out there that comes up whenever Davis' future is discussed. That would be Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko, a unified lightweight champ who, at 31, is older than Davis. He has a shorter professional resume of 12-1 with nine KOs but a long history as an amateur (he has two Olympic gold medals).
Lomachenko has also fought in weight classes a few pounds heavier than Davis but as fight fans know, Davis has always had trouble getting down to 130 anyway.
While a Davis-Lomachenko fight seems like a match made in some boxing promoter's heaven, that might not be in the Mayweather blueprint for Davis.
Why risk an undefeated record and the steady paydays a something-and-zero record guarantees against a dangerous opponent?
Perhaps Davis will someday satisfy his fans' most ambitious aspirations for him by winning titles in multiple weight classes as Mayweather did. In 50 wins, Mayweather amassed belts in five weight classes.
Or, at least, perhaps Davis will eventually be recognized as the undisputed superstar in even a single weight class by unifying titles.
To do that, though, Gervonta Davis needs to avoid serious out-of-the-ring problems. And maybe also Vasyl Lomachenko.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mayweather Promotions