The emphatic knockout and some competitive early rounds shouldn’t obscure the obvious. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
Rolando Romero had almost no chance to win last weekend and the finish was all but inevitable.
Romero had barely more than a novice’s professional experience, a belief in his power, and technique that begs for the sort of counters Davis finished the night with. As noted in the preview piece from the corner, if Davis could take Romero’s shots then the slim puncher’s chance in the fight wasn’t even really there.
Romero, using his jab, made some moments for himself and kept his punches shorter for a while. Davis took what landed and composed. By the third round, Davis was starting to get the timing down with a minimalist output. At the end, Romero’s chin was hanging in space as he swept in wide. It could end up being a good learning experience for him. For Davis, it was the latest evidence of a prime fighter who is in his zone.
It’s one thing to have a fight one almost can’t lose. It’s another to have the patience and pose to wait for the openings to come organically. Davis didn’t panic when he hurt his hand against Isaac Cruz and found a way to outbox a tenacious foe. He didn’t rush for blood against Romero on Saturday.
The fight played out as expected but when the expected comes with a highlight reel conclusion, it’s easy to get excited. The bigger story may have been the crowd. In three straight fights, Davis has packed houses in three major metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York. Genuine ticket sellers in boxing can be rare and Davis has shown he puts asses in seats coast-to-coast.
Anyone still arguing about whether Tank is a star is missing reality.
Futures: That doesn’t mean Davis is fully the star he can be yet. The pay-per-view returns so far have been mixed and we’ll see how last weekend went. While there have been complaints from some fans about his move exclusively to pay-per-view, the rationale for it makes sense. His handlers have created an expectation in the marketplace.
Tank costs more to see.
Now he needs to see the sort of pay-per-view opponent who turns that expectation into higher grosses. Given his drawing power, the fight that should make the most sense is Davis against the winner of Saturday’s George Kambosos-Devin Haney undisputed lightweight title contest. The biggest star of the division should be fighting to be the best in his division at some point. It’s the sort of accolade Davis hasn’t fully acquired as yet.
Davis didn’t do a ton of note at Jr. lightweight between impressive knockouts of Jose Pedraza and Leo Santa Cruz to truly make a case as the king of that class. He’s competed for secondary titles at lightweight and Jr. welterweight without yet getting into the mix with the top half of the top ten. That’s not the same as saying he hasn’t been fighting good fighters. Saturday was Davis’s first start in four not to feature an opponent ranked by major media outlets.
There’s just another level of opponent waiting and it’s coming.
There are other foes who could play big if the Kambosos-Haney winner is occupied elsewhere, even in a contracted rematch after this weekend. Michel Rivera has a mandatory claim with the WBA that could be interesting and names like Lomachenko and Garcia are millions waiting to be cashed.
How big Davis’s star grows to be will be determined when fights like those start getting made. None of them will be easy. He might not win them all. But he’s bringing a whole lot of paying fans hoping he will and that should start erasing obstacles sooner than later.
Rold Picks 2022: 24-6
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org