The 'Tank' rumbling with The Money Team
The car park of the famed Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas usually doubles as a showroom for the latest and greatest European sports cars. Weave your way between the various immaculately manicured Lamborghinis and Bugattis and you will find ‘The Money Team’ spending an increasing amount of time tending to a 20-year-old ‘Tank’.
Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis’ reputation and amateur achievements earned him the ear of Floyd Mayweather Sr and Roger Mayweather and eventually got him an audition with the man himself.
It’s safe to say Floyd has been impressed. Davis’ exciting, aggressive performances and willingness to test himself have moved Mayweather to say of him, “Mayweather Promotions wants to take him to the next level. The ultimate goal is to see him break all of my records.” With the backing of the greatest fighter of his generation and influential manager, Al Haymon, the sky could be the limit for Davis.
Still just 20 years old, 2012 Golden Gloves champion, Davis (13-0, 12 KOs) grew up in Baltimore on the East Coast of the United States. It is easy to while away a few hours wandering around the city’s beautiful harbour area but Davis grew up a long way from the tourist traps which draw crowds to the ‘Charm City’.
Like many boxers, the super-featherweight found salvation through controlled violence and structure rather than running wild on the street.
“I grew up in West Baltimore. You can find trouble if you are looking for it,” Davis told BM. “My parents were on drugs and I was in foster care. I lived in group homes for a while. When I was back with my family, I always just stayed in the gym and kept busy with boxing.
“My uncles saw me street fighting around 7 years old. They took me to the gym so I could learn to box and that kept me out of trouble. One of the coaches from my gym, Coach Mack, gave me the ‘Tank’ nickname because I had a big head as a little kid.
“I realised I could be great when I won the Silver Gloves. I was probably 12 years old. [But my best victory came when] we rematched a guy I lost to in the Junior Olympic finals [Joet Gonzalez]. Then I rematched him in the Golden Gloves finals and beat him.”
As a 17-year-old, Davis was unable to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London due to his age and the thought of hanging around for four more years for a shot at glory in Rio didn’t appeal. “No, I didn't want to wait. I knew I was ready for the pros and wanted to start making money.”
After calling time on his amateur career and leaving behind a 206-15 record, the desire to make money has led Davis to the lair of the master.
Being around the Mayweather camp could incite one of two reactions in a fighter. Rather than subconsciously relaxing into the comfort zone of one of boxing’s most powerful outfits, Davis has seen beyond the glitz and glamour and latched on to the quality which ensured Mayweather remained at the peak of his powers throughout his unblemished 49 fight career. Sheer hard work.
The ability to see the end goal has allowed Davis to take his rapid rise in his stride and his love of a challenge has seen him thrive during the dog eat dog sparring sessions for which the Mayweather Boxing Club is renowned.
“I've been around lots of successful teams and camps. I've taken things from each group to learn from and I've still got a lot to learn,” Davis told BM. “There are different levels of success and I'm moving towards where I want to be. I get a lot of support from Baltimore and I support the people as well. This sport has its pitfalls, but I have put a team of people around me who I can trust. At this level, this is about what I expected.
“Floyd heard stories about me from when I was in the amateurs. I met Floyd Sr when I won my first PALs [Police Athletic League Tournaments]. Then, I met his Uncle Roger at a boxing show in DC. I eventually met Floyd at the Mayweather-Maidana press tour in DC. When I stepped into his gym earlier this year, he made me work out and spar some guys and the rest is history.
“Anytime you step into a new situation, it's exciting,” Davis said of the sparring. “I enjoy sparring no matter where it is. I just like to fight. I spar great fighters all the time. That is nothing new for me. The favourite and funniest moment of my career was probably walking into Floyd's gym in Vegas to meet him and then he told me to hurry to the locker room and get dressed so that I could spar. I put that moment on my Instagram.
“We are going to take things one step at a time. I've relocated to Las Vegas to live and train, but I also come back to Baltimore. Coach Calvin [Ford] has come out to Vegas to train me. For now, I'll be competing for titles at 130lbs.”
Whether you believe Mayweather has already left the sport or think he will find it impossible to resist returning for that history-making 50th fight, in his role as a promoter he needs to be constantly looking for the next big thing. During the endless fight week interviews ahead of his fight with Andre Berto in September, Mayweather found plenty of time to champion Davis’ cause and provided him with a showcase fight on the undercard.
Davis did his part by stopping Recky Dulay in just 94 seconds and the expectation of being anointed as the latest star to emerge from ‘The Money Team’ doesn’t seem to be affecting him. In fact, the only pressure Davis has placed on himself involves emerging from the massed ranks of good fighters that inhabit the world stage and establishing himself as an exceptional one.
“This wasn't my first big card and most of my fights have been out of [my home] town. It was my first fight with that kind of attention since it was Floyd's last fight. I love the attention and being under the big lights,” Davis told BM.
“It is an honour to be put in that position [that of potential star] and I'm ready to work hard and show that I deserve to be here. I think you have to learn lessons one step at a time plus you have to stay humble. You have to take this sport serious. There is life after boxing, so there are money and health issues that me and my team have to always think about. I think talent, hard work, putting the right people around you, and making the right decisions all play a part.
“I appreciate everyone's support. Keep supporting me and I'll fight for you.”
You can follow Gervonta on Facebook at Gervonta "Tank" Davis and on Instagram and Twitter @Gervontaa