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Boxing better off after Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia fight

The biggest winner Saturday wasn’t Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who isn’t just the heir apparent to Canelo Alvarez as boxing’s biggest superstar — but one of its best pound-for-pound fighters.

The biggest winner was the sport itself.

Thank you, Tank.

Thank you, “King” Ryan Garcia.

Their 136-pound catchweight megafight at T-Mobile Arena is what boxing is supposed to be all about: Two of its best agreeing to battle in their primes, risking undefeated records and the cachet they carry. The two broke down the barriers that often bar megafights, collaborating on Showtime pay-per-view via Premier Boxing Champions — and during a spirited, lively eight-week promotion.

The result was astounding: A seventh-round knockout by Davis, whose one-punch power often belies his brilliance as a boxer, in one of the biggest events to land in Las Vegas, where 20,842 gathered to watch the two warriors while millions more likely watched around the world.

“They are what’s great for boxing … They laid it all on the line,” PBC host Ray Flores said as Davis and Garcia posed together for photos in the ring they shared.

“So much appreciation for both Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis, for what they did for boxing and for fans around the world.”

Superstar status

Davis (29-0, 27 knockouts) said he isn’t sure who he’ll fight next and that he plans to rest after two fights in four months. He’s due in a Baltimore court May 5 to face sentencing for a 2020 hit-and-run, pleading guilty to four charges in connection to the case.

When he returns to the ring, he’ll decide against whom — having the superstar drawing power that allows his team to dictate its terms.

“We’ll see what the best decision is,” said Davis, 28. “Can’t really say right now because I just fought. I’m going to try to rest.”

The other elite fighters in the lightweight division are Shakur Stevenson, Devin Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Stevenson, a 25-year-old two-weight world champion, dominated Shuichiro Yoshino this month in his 135-pound debut. Haney, a 24-year-old Las Vegan, is the weight class’ undisputed champion. He defends his title May 20 at the MGM Grand Garden against the 35-year-old Lomachenko, twice an Olympic gold medalist and formerly a three-weight world champion.

Davis has fought at 140 pounds, beating Mario Barrios in 2021. Champions in the division include Josh Taylor (WBO), Subriel Matisse (IBF) and Regis Prograis (WBC). Taylor defends his title in June against former unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez.

“Hopefully we’ll come up with a game plan in the next couple months and head on again,” said Davis, deservedly basking in his biggest victory.

Back to the basics

Garcia (23-1, 19 KOs) announced his plan to pursue a title in the 140-pound division, in which his last fight before the one against Davis was contested against Javier Fortuna.

But first he’ll need more seasoning, having struggled Saturday on the sport’s biggest stage.

He acknowledged his inexperience, to which he attributed his ill-advised attack in the second round that preceded the first knockdown Davis scored. He also stands to sharpen his skills, sporting little Saturday beyond the signature left hook that Davis was obviously expecting.

“This fight’s not going to deter me too much, my dreams,” Garcia said. “I got in there with one of the best. I fought. I did what I had to do to get in the ring.”

‘Fun while it lasted’

For that alone, Garcia deserves to be celebrated. His superstar burns brighter than it did before, but not as bright as Davis’ does now. Somebody had to lose for boxing to win — something he and Davis knew when they finalized the fight.

“We were going off each other’s energy there, I’ll say,” Davis said. “We were actually talking. It was fun while it lasted. I enjoyed every moment of it.”

Save for Garcia, who didn’t?

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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