Blessed: The Rise of Gervonta Davis

On Saturday, May 28th the undefeated superstar and knockout artist, Gervonta “Tank” Davis, returns to the ring to defend his WBA regular lightweight title against Rolando Romero. Romero enters the ring Saturday boasting a record of 14-0 with 12 knockouts, a formidable opponent for the PPV star.

Gervonta currently boasts a knockout win ratio of 93% (Image: DAZN)

Today, Davis sits in the lightweight scene, and across the rest of the boxing landscape, as a KO savage and PPV star. A relentless machine that stalks and bullies his opponents to find the shot that will put them to sleep. A killer aura that few can match.

Journey back and this isn’t the profile many conjured when they first heard Davis's name on his pro-debut on February 22nd at the D.C Armory in Washington D.C 9 years ago. Davis surfaced from a life filled with gun violence, foster care, and parental abandonment. This is the reality of many on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland where gun violence and dangerous drug trades circulate turning young men into a life of crime. Host to the infamous and award-winning crime drama show The Wire, which attempted to touch the soul of the dark underbelly of Baltimore. Although, allegedly the Wire is only a small window into the reality of some of these hardships. 

“It’s (my upbringing) definitely worse than the Wire. It’s super small so it’s easy to get in contact with someone” - Gervonta Davis

It seemed that Davis had a talent for fighting from his tendency to get caught up in street brawls. His uncles, set on containing such a dangerous habit wanted “to turn a negative into a positive”. So, they funded Gervonta to join Upton Boxing Centre where he met the long-time coach and father figure, Calvin Ford. A meeting that would unknowingly spark the fire of Davis’s superstar career. 

Ford having his own demons to battle was more than familiar with the streets of Baltimore and even tragically lost his son to gun violence. Ford served as inspiration for the character “Cutty” on The Wire TV program. A void had formed in both Davis and Ford’s lives from the tragedy of crime. Like a proverbial perfect storm, they found each other in the chaos. Their relationship would ultimately morph into a father-son duo. A duo that would carry them to international sensation.

Calvin Ford and Gervonta Davis have formed a father-son relationship throughout their years together. (Image: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images)

Gervonta Davis made his pro-debut at 18 years old, neglecting the wait for the Olympics that would occur in 3 years. A retrospective wise choice given the nature of his style. His pro-debut was won in spectacular fashion that came through a 1st round KO. In the subsequent moments of the KO, Davis searches in the chaos of the ring when it is stormed by all officials. He’s looking for only one man, Calvin Ford. They run at each other and embrace for a hug, a beautiful moment signifying the start of the new chapter. 

Gervonta wins his pro-debut by knockout. (Image: Anna John/StiffJab)

Under the PBC banner of Al Haymon, which included the likes of Errol Spence Jr. and the Charlo brothers, Davis was swimming in an elite talent pool. His meteoric rise continued stringing together one KO after the other that would eventually catch the eye of Floyd “Money” Mayweather, the greatest ever to do it. Mayweather’s eye was caught by Davis in a sparring session. Noticing the potential of Davis, Mayweather signed Davis under his brand Floyd Mayweather Promotions. If it wasn’t clear before, it was now. The groundwork was set for a lucrative and head-turning career in professional boxing. 

At 20 years old, Davis requested a tattoo to be inscribed across his neck, visible to all. The tattoo was simple, with one word that reads “Blessed”. A fitting expression of Davis’s gratitude for the mentors in his life and for having been given boxing as a route away from crime. 

“Boxing saved my life” - Gervonta Davis 

Only 2 years later, Davis would fight Jose Pedraza for the IBF Super-Featherweight World title-winning in trademark KO fashion. This was only the beginning and Davis continued to tear through the super-featherweight division before stepping up in weight to take on the veteran Yuriorkis Gamboa and the former P4P-ranked Léo Santa Cruz at the lightweight divisions. Davis KO’d both. 

Today, the P4P king and PPV star sits at the top of the food chain with sights set to achieve even bigger things. Gervonta’s past has moulded him into a knockout savage, a predator who will take risks to knock his opponents out. An entertaining and gripping style that has carried him to stardom. 

“I’m not here to look pretty, so when I go in there. If I can get you out of there... if I can take probably like 2 shots but I know for sure I can land this one-off one. It's going to knock you out.” - Gervonta Davis