Despite plenty of trash talk, Jake Paul runs from another professional boxer
After famously ducking a professional fight with Hasim Rahman Jr., a fighter of a similar size and age, Jake Paul ran from a 44 year old Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the streets. Jake Paul has a lot to learn about boxing, and Professor Mayweather’s class is in sesson.
It’s a difficult thing to convert social media followers into paying customers, no matter your chosen profession. That’s precisely the challenge ahead of the current wave of influencers that are choosing the path of professional boxing.
Why There Are So Many Influencers In Boxing
Jake Paul, despite technically becoming a professional fighter, is still desperate to legitimize himself as a fighter in the eyes of boxing fans. After being publicly and embarrassingly ousted from what must have been a very comfortable Disney acting gig Paul subsequently failed to sufficiently monetize his YouTube stardom. Paul attempted to perpetrate as a rapper despite never writing a single bar of substance.
After that inevitably fell through, Jake started to promote himself as a fighter; a professional fighter. He started taking fights against other famous personalities, but only under very specific, conspicuously beneficial circumstances. Although he impressed a few with boxing victories over old, faded, UFC fighters, Jake Paul never proved himself as a real boxer in the eyes of many.
In contrast to the typical professional boxer starting their career, Jake Paul has been able to leverage his gigantic social media following in a number of directions.
And in many ways, Ryan Garcia is in a similar situation.
Like Jake Paul, Ryan Garcia is mostly known for his impressive social media presence. Whereas Jake Paul used YouTube to entertain his previous Disney community, Ryan Garcia’s profile boasts millions of followers on instagram. His expansive fanbase affords him promotional opportunities with producers of some major consumer brands. After making an absolute spectacle of himself on Mike Tyson’s podcast with an over the top call out of Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia became the first American boxer to land an endorsement deal with Gatorade in January 2021.
Not long after calling for a fight against Tank in seemingly the most bombastic fashion he could fathom, Garcia went into hiding, taking a mental health holiday from the sport of boxing. Upon resurfacing, Ryan Garcia’s next announced fight curiously wasn’t against Gervonta Davis, as his legions of followers had been primed to expect.
To summarize: Ryan Garcia, after promising a superfight with the most dangerous puncher at 135 lbs. and landing endorsement deals in the midst of the buzz this created, ducked his own fight, blamed the ensuing media dumpster fire on his mental health, and moonwalked all the way to a vacation. He did all this with the blessing of the WBC; he wasn’t stripped of the belt or penalized in any way for this odd behavior. Through this type of schrewd marketing, Garcias fight resume doesn’t necessarily reflect the social media fanfare he has successfully nurtured around his thriving brand. Questionable performances against his current level of competition understandably warranted deep contemplation before signing for a Gervonta Davis fight.
Golden Boy Promotions, perhaps in a more risk averse move since severing ties with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, put their remaining lightweight star in the ring against Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna instead of against Tank Davis. Fortuna is another shorter southpaw, notable for his reputation as a brawler who is willing to use the rules and take damage to find his advantage in a fight. His deeply scarred face belies a former champion’s efforts to regain glory, or perhaps a desperation to survive against the inevitable onslaught of youth.
In heavy contrast to Fortuna, the spry Davis rarely takes much damage in any of his fights; conversely, he has a style crafted to preserve his health and faculties for what’s anticipated to be a long and storied career in the hurt business.
The Difference Between Davis and Fortuna
Speed is important for all boxers to varying degrees and for different reasons. Shorter fighters tend to need more quickness to compete with larger opposition, and Tank Davis has speed and power in excess. Davis, 5’5 1/2″, is actually shorter than Fortuna at 5’7″. Taking into account that seeming disadvantage in height, Davis could nonetheless be observed moving considerably more quickly around the ring in recent bouts than could Fortuna in his bout against Garcia.
Despite any superficial similarities between the two lightweights, Davis’ approach to the boxing ring is different than that of Javier Fortuna. There are some apparent likenesses there, so a fight between Garcia and Fortuna could form comparisons around an already brewing Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia contest. But ultimately, the chasm of difference between Gervonta’s and Javier’s styles means that the Garcia matchup with Fortuna fails to build any genuine anticipation.
Even though both Fortuna and Davis are on the shorter side and are southpaws, that’s about where the similarities end.
Garcia fights on DAZN, which is a type of bundled subscription service; you pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to all the fights on DAZN cards. It’s kind of a value budget deal for boxing fans. Davis, on the other hand, is a PPV attraction; Gervonta Davis is the draw of any event he’s involved with, and the costs for tickets and PPV access reflect a premium value.
On May 22, 2022 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Mayweather Promotions and Premier Boxing Champions treated us to Gervonta Davis vs. Rolando Romero. In Davis vs. Romero, Davis spent much of the fight showcasing excellent mobility and tricky outside footwork to evade a seemingly inexhaustible charging bull in a young Rolly Romero. Romero was carrying out another reckless charge when Davis surgically seperated him from his senses with a perfectly timed counter left hook in the 6th. Such a feat showcased the impressive coordinated application of power and agility from Davis, a wrinkle Fortuna didn’t show at all in his bout with Ryan Garcia.
Gervonta Davis is seen by many as the most dangerous puncher at 135 lbs. Unlike the social media come-lately’s of the day, Davis’ elite level speed and power make possible his notoriety in the sport and his phenomenal record of 28(26)-0-0. He has shown camera-blurring hand speed and devastatingly precise application of power to knock out twenty-six of his twenty-eight opponents. He has showcased outstanding footwork and positioning in tandem with the ability to box against other powerful punchers.
Davis has also coolly overcome adversity, showing real grit by boxing a grueling 12 rounds with a broken hand for a decision over Isaac Cruz, another murderous lightweight puncher.
Backgrounds In Boxing
In stark contrast to Ryan Garcia, Davis’ career was built on determination and grit and less IG hype. His highlight reels span back to when he was 6 years old. Ryan Garcia, like Jake Paul, started boxing much later in life and has built his disproportionately strong brand presence in the sport using shrewd marketing and promotional strategies. He made waves, rode one to a bigger fight, eventually, and now holds claim to one of boxing’s many auxiliary world championship belts.
Ryan Garcia is less known for his skills in the ring than he is for making radical statements to create excitement around himself. Plenty of active prizefighters promote themselves similarly, especially as of late, and we’ve seen repeated evidence that there can be consistent dividends paid on such investments. The tactic of stirring controversy isn’t new. In fact, it’s been useful to many boxers throughout the history of the sport in order to promote themselves and their upcoming bouts.
The part of the marketing strategy of validating the fighter’s ability through social reputation has also been used to great effect by promotional companies and fighters throughout the history of boxing, but it leaves an obvious vulnerability for a fighter like Ryan Garcia. While he’s staging videos on instagram to promote his hand speed to his followers, his opponents are privately getting more and more insight into his developing weaknesses. At a certain level of competition, trading that intel for pure marketing purposes costs more in the ring than the purse yield is worth. A good enough team will pick up on Garcia’s weaknesses in one of his many speed/power showcases and catch him again with something unexpected.
Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia
Interestingly, Ryan Garcia has made something of a habit of calling out Gervonta Davis, considered by many the legitimate superstar of the lightweight division. There’s a generations-long beef between Mayweather Promotions, representing Davis, and Golden Boy Promotions, who represents Garcia. 50-0 Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya kicked off the rivalry in the legendary buildup to their classic boxer vs. puncher matchup on May 5, 2007 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The irony of the situation is that a fight between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia could’ve arguably been made already. They’re both champions, they’re in the same weight class, and both have large respective audiences. De La Hoya’s fighter, Ryan Garcia, is slightly taller than his rival’s fighter. The parallels between the generations are uncanny, and the fighters appear to be aware of the anticipation around a boxing match between the two. If the stars align and the fans are fortunate this rivalry could culminate in a Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia superfight in 2022.
Ryan Garcia even famously went as far as to call out Gervonta Davis on former undisputed heavyweight champion “Iron” Mike Tyson’s podcast, although Garcia’s self-described mental health issues caused the fight to fall through. The spectacle made for great fanfare, and was seen by many at the time as possibly a genuine attempt by the young De La Hoya protege to actually secure a fight with Davis.
Calling for a fight against a dangerous champion is a great way to build momentum online and create interest. But not following through with these superstar promises, regularly opting instead to fight lesser opponents, delaying challenging fights against difficult opponents, or backing out of fights outright are probably only excuseable a few times in a career of mediocre opposition. Keep up the act too long and even the fans might figure out that the emperor has no clothes.
Davis, regarded by many as the most dangerous puncher at 135 lbs., appears to react to Garcia’s repeated callouts over the years with skepticism.
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