Every so often, a boxer comes along who captivates the public with his skill, thus qualifying his bouts as must-see TV. Eyes are typically glued to the screen whenever said boxer fights, in fear of missing one vicious blow or masterful combination that’d spell defeat for his opponent. The science of pugilism is often referred to as “sweet,” but the sports’ brightest stars have always been the ones best known for being anything but. This is the case with rising superstar Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who has become boxing’s most feared slugger following a string of explosive performances and championship belt-earning victories.
A product of the rough-and-tumble streets of Baltimore, Maryland, Tank, 27, is considered among the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing. He currently holds titles in three weight classes, including the WBA super lightweight belt he picked up following his bout with Mario Barrios this past July, which saw Davis stopping Barrios via technical knockout in the 11th round. The fight, which was Davis’ second on Pay-Per-View, continued his upward trajectory in the sport and fanned the flames that’ve fueled comparisons to Mike Tyson, another fighter with a history of show-stopping knockouts.
Like Iron Mike in his prime, Tank has also been fully embraced by Hip-Hop, having had stars like Lil Baby, Lil Uzi Vert, and Casanova perform while walking him to the ring. Another similarity the two fighters share is they’ve both found truth in the saying, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” Formidable challengers await Tank with gloves laced, eager to knock that crown off his head and make it their own. Among them is Isaac “The Pitbull” Cruz.
An undefeated fighter hailing from Mexico, Cruz is looking to strip Tank of his WBA (regular) lightweight title in a bout set to take place this Sunday (Dec. 5) at The Staples Center in Los Angeles. This will be Tank’s third consecutive fight in a different weight class. Next in a long line of challenges, the champ’s upcoming fight against Cruz, a knockout artist who’s also been compared to Tyson, will perhaps be his most difficult yet.
VIBE spoke with Tank about his keys to victory as he prepares to face Cruz, his thoughts on boxing’s pound-for-pound lists, his personal picks for Rap Album of the Year, and more.
VIBE: The last time we spoke, you were preparing for your fight against Mario Barrios for the WBA super lightweight champion title. How does it feel to be a three-division champion?
Gervonta “Tank” Davis: Man, it feels good trying to build that legacy for myself. It feels good just stepping in the right direction and becoming a three-division champ. So, I definitely appreciate it.
What did you learn about yourself as a boxer during the Barrios fight?
They’re definitely hitting different at 140 lbs (laughs). Not really nothing to learn about. He was a bigger guy, I broke him down when I needed to break him down, that’s about it. He was just another opponent.
You’re set to defend your WBA (regular) lightweight title against Isaac “The Pitbull” Cruz on Dec 5. How do you feel heading into this match?
It feels good actually fighting in L.A. in the Staples Center. They say it’s the house of Kobe, so it definitely feels like I have to live up to the whole background and things like that. I’m definitely looking to put on a great performance for the fans; for everybody that’s coming Dec. 5 and everybody that’s tuning in on Showtime… I think that’s the main goal, to put on a great performance.
You were originally supposed to fight Rolly Romero for the title, but he had to pull out of the fight due to potential legal issues. What was your reaction upon hearing the news, and was there any disappointment that the fight didn’t go through?
Man, it was a little disappointing because of the hype that was built around the fight and him just talking trash. But it’s the sport of boxing, anything can happen. So, it’s just about adapting to whatever opponent that I face come fight night. That’s the goal, it doesn’t matter who they put in front of me as long as I beat ’em.
Isaac “The Pitbull” Cruz will be fighting in place of Romero. What were your first impressions of Cruz as a boxer?
He’s a tough fighter. He’s coming to win. He’s got a lot on his plate. I think that he’s definitely coming to put on a great performance, and I’ve just got to be ready. Whatever he brings come fight night, I [have to] beat him on his mistakes. So, whatever mistakes he has, I just gotta capitalize off it come fight night.
What would you say are Isaac Cruz’s best attributes?
His output [and] his strength. He’s fast. I don’t really know about his defense, I can’t really say [anything] about his defense. I think his offense is his defense. His offense is just [to] keep coming and that’s what I gotta watch out for.
Both you and Cruz have been referred to as baby Mike Tysons. Is there any added motivation to prove that you truly fit that bill?
Not really. My whole job and main goal is just to beat him come fight night [in] a high fashion… Make people scrunch their face up like, “Damn.”
There’s been a lot of talk about who deserves to be on boxing’s pound-for-pound list. Where do you feel you rank, and what are your thoughts on the critics who leave you out of those conversations?
I really don’t pay attention to that ’cause it’s all opinion and I don’t think that I need to focus on that to be the best I can be. It’ll come, as long as I keep knocking these guys out. For certain, I’m gonna be on.there. So, I really don’t pay attention to it, but if it happens, if I get on there… At first, they had me on there when I knocked out [Leo] Santa Cruz, then they took me off. I don’t know [why]. You never know.
You’ve recently had back-and-forth exchanges with Devin Haney and Teófimo López, two of the other title holders in the light-weight division. What are your thoughts on their recent comments about wanting to step in the ring with you?
I mean, if it happens, it happens. But me, I really don’t care. I’m good with it or without it. I’m here, I’m ready for whoever they put in front of me. So, let’s get it.
There have been rumors of you moving up to the 147 lbs. division down the line. How far up in weight do you plan on going as you progress in your career?
I mean, I can compete at… It ain’t like I ain’t spar with true 147 [lbs] guys [yet], so I think I can compete at any weight class. It’s just if the opportunity comes, I’m with it.
You recently experienced the birth of your second daughter. How has fatherhood impacted your approach to boxing and your personal life in general?
Having my daughter just gave me more patience. More patience and to really wanna have a life after boxing. So, I just don’t wanna take too much punishment in the sport of boxing and make sure I can be able to move around with my kids and be active with them. So, that’s mainly my whole goal, just to stay put and have patience with everything overall.
You’re one of the more popular fighters among rap fans and artists, as well as being a big rap fan yourself. With 2021 coming to a close, what would you say are a few of your favorite rap albums of the year?
I’d say Drake… [Lil] Durk and [Lil] Baby album. Mozzy’s album.
What would you say is your favorite song of the year?
Young Thug, “Road Rage.” I like the song. It don’t get me pumped… but I don’t know. It just gives me that feeling. That chill feeling.
How does it feel when you hear your name in rap lyrics?
I mean, it’s getting normal now ’cause it’s been done over and over again. But I appreciate it, for sure. For the artists just saying my name and keeping me in the mix. It made me feel good. It made me pumped. Just happy.
All but one of your professional fights have ended via knockout. What do you think it will take to continue that streak come Dec. 5?
I mean, I ain’t looking for a knockout, but if it comes, I’m definitely gonna be on it. I’m just looking to put on a great performance, just do what I do best. Just get out there and give the people what they wanna see.