Garcia complains about rehydration clauses but only trains a few days a week. Fighters of yesteryear would’ve gobbled him up.
In boxing, it’s not necessarily about size all the time. While it’s typically true that all skills being somehow equal between two fighters with the only difference being size would yield predictable results. A good big man beats a good smaller man. But a great smaller man beats a good bigger man almost every time.
Consider Sam Langford, known by many as the greatest fighter to have ever lived.
Langford stood 5’6 1/2″ and competed at lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight. All told, Langford fought 314 times with a record of 210(126)-43-53. There are some anomalous numbers in Langford’s record, besides the unbelievably high number of total fights. That part, as incredible as it sounds, is completely accurate.
Suspect Judges And Referees
The strangeness really stands out when you consider the number of draws; 53 fights that the referee or judges just, somehow couldn’t determine a winner is an ominous reminder that an entire class of the greatest fighters were heavily discriminated against and outright cheated out of everlasting boxing glory due to the shocking racism the United States used to systematically exploit Black Americans in the 1800s and early 1900s. Many Black fighters, even today, face noticeably disproportionate media scrutiny, some of which is rooted in the vitriolic rhetoric that was so common and raw when the country was newer. 4 draws and a NC in your first 10 professional fights is unheard of now, even against Black American fighters, no doubt due to increased visibility on the yesteryear antics of the judges.
Despite his ring mastery, exceptional skill and unmatched ring IQ, Sam Langford never got a world title. Compare that to Vasility Lomachenko, who got two title fights in his first two professional fights. He lost his first fight, a title shot, and lost his second fight, which was another title shot. Imagine if Sam Langford had been granted a title fight in such a helpful way for his career; he would’ve likely been the longest reigning multiweight champion in boxing history!
Gervonta Davis vs. Sam Langford
Although it’s still relatively early in the superstar’s career, you can see now that Gervonta Davis and Sam Langford share certain similarities. They’re very close to the same height; Tank Davis is 5’5 1/2″, while Langford stood about 5’7″. Despite each man’s smaller stature in comparison to their respective opponents, both men possess uncanny punching power and cat-like agility. While Langford knocked out at least 126 men throughout the course of his storied career, Davis hasn’t even fought that many people in official contests. In fact, boxers very rarely fight more than 50 fights in the modern era. Although Tank Davis has likely sparred hundreds of times, his official record is dwarfed, at least so far, by the great Sam Langford.
While Langford has more total knockouts than almost anybody in the last hundred years or so, Tank Davis’ knockout percentage is much higher so far. Tank has knocked out 26 of his 28 opponents so far in his star studded and illustrious career. Regardless of the current deficit in knockouts compared to the great Sam Langford, the uncanny power of Gervonta Davis appears to transcend at least some of the weight classes above him.
The Stain Of Racism On Professional Boxing In The U.S.
Professional boxing has changed quite a bit since the time of Sam Langford and Jack Johnson. The biggest difference is the official acceptance of Black American competitors for world titles. For a long time in the United States, Blacks were prohibited from competing with Whites in every aspect of American life. Schools, neighborhoods, jobs, and opportunities were all segregated; sorted in ways that funneled the best resources and the first choice always to White citizens. All the while, the worst equipment, funding, facilities and utilities were fought over by Black people.
Segregation was an officially upheld policy by the federal government in the United States up until a few decades ago. That means in the past generation or so, the United States government was officially complicit in the systematic oppression of Black people within the bounds of the country. Every aspect of American life was much more starkly divided along racial lines in the early 1900s; professional boxing was no different. Black fighters, in spite of their obvious dominance among other fighters especially in the U.S., were prohibited from fighting on fair terms against White fighters.
Proliferation of Belts In Modern Professional Boxing
Besides the all encompassing limitations of racism on him and every other Black fighter in the U.S., there are many more weight classes today than there were in the time of Sam Langford. While modern prizefighters typically stay within a weight division or two, Langford successfully terrified every single weight class of his day. If you were a professional fighter that couldn’t draw the color line, you had to fear Black Sam Langford, as Jack Dempsey famously admitted he did.
While the journey from lightweight to heavyweight took fewer steps back in the day, there are all kinds of reasons why you’ll never see another man fight so successfully from the lowest weight class to the highest, being ducked by heavyweight champions and lightweight champions alike as was Sam Langford
Today, outside of lightweights, welterweights, middleweights, light heavyweights and heavyweights, there are bantamweights, junior lightweights, junior welterweights, junior middleweights, cruiserweights, and the almost infinite possibilities of catchweights. While technically Sam could’ve competed in all the same weight classes today, he would’ve been forced to run through way more competition.
But then, there’d also be a lot more transparency into the handling of his career these days. Technology would presumably remove the shroud of ignorance and anonymity from officials who were clearly able to limit Langford’s achievements throughout his life in the early 1800s and 1900s.
Tank Davis Next Fight
Ryan Garcia has signed the contract finally and is set to be Gervonta Tank Davis next fight. But Ryan hasn’t shown the drive or ability to take on the biggest challenges and overcome them. On the contrary, Garcia tends to only fight people that are quite a bit smaller than him with the occassional similarly sized opponent.
With Tank Davis’ power and skills, it’s more likely that he’d be capable of moving up in weight and terrifying the higher divisions. He’s been displaying shocking power, even in video of him sparring welterweights in the gym. His speed and craftiness make Tank Davis the most dangerous fighter in the division, if not the best.
The Best Lightweight
While the sports world is reeling from the official announcement of Tank Davis vs. Ryan Garcia, the boxing world salivates similalry for the showdown between the other two supremely talented elites in the weight division; Devin Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko. While Top Rank and ESPN tend to inflate the capabilites of the Ukrainian superstar, comparison between Lomachenko and Haney have been few and far between before the announcement of their bout. In fact, the only narrative around Haney vs. Lomachenko so far has to do with Lomachenkos complaints about Haney’s size.
Because of this, there might not be as much buzz around Haney vs. Lomachenko as there is for Tank Davis vs. Ryan Garcia. This isn’t evidence that once is a bigger fight, necessarily.
What it really shows is that the established boxing media really didn’t want this fight to pick up any promotional steam.
If Tank Davis beats Ryan Garcia, he’s called for the winner of Haney vs. Lomachenko.
Only when Devin Haney fights Gervonta Davis will the world know who the best lightweight truly is. But even then, we’ll still be left to wonder if any fighter today would’ve beaten Sam Langford.