Skip to Content

Who On Earth Wants To Fight Tank Davis Now?

Gervonta "Tank" Davis clobbers Frank Martin with a huge left hook.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images

Gervonta "Tank" Davis was so good last weekend he might’ve hurt his own career. Who’d want to fight this guy now? 

The southpaw retained his lightweight title on Saturday night, bouncing Frank Martin’s head off the canvas with a pugilistically profound but humanistically heinous left hook, and placed himself among the most frightening 135-pounders in the history of boxing—and, hell, mankind. And he's as ring-smart as he is scary.

In the near-week since the KO, the loudest talk in boxing has been around the Baltimore pug and who’s got next. After watching what happened to Martin, will anyone in their right mind want next? (Ryan Garcia isn’t allowed in the on-deck circle for lots of reasons. But more on boxing’s biggest bozo later.)

Davis came into the Martin fight after a 14-month professional hiatus, due in part to a jail sentence from a 2020 incident in his hometown in which he crashed his Lamborghini into a carful of people and fled, leaving an injured pregnant woman behind. Davis said he felt “a little crusty” at the opening bell against Martin, who came into the fight 18-0 with 12 KOs. The challenger landed lots of punches early and even scabbed up the right side of Davis’s face. 

But even while handing the first two or three rounds to his quick and game opponent, Davis never seemed not in control. Just as he’d been in his last outing, against Garcia in April 2023, Davis was simply following his normal fight plan: Take the occasional punch while sizing up and wearing down the opponent, then wait for an opening to knock him the fuck out.  

Against Martin, Tank’s opening came midway through the eighth round. Good god, did it ever. By then, Davis had processed enough information about Martin to know he needn't fear his punching power. So he stopped letting Martin pile up points and began dictating the pace. Davis backed the challenger into a corner, used his right glove to hold Martin’s head in place, and began bashing him with a series of absolutely brutal overhand lefts.

Martin had never before been knocked down, let alone out. But the end of those streaks arrived shortly after Davis hit him with a right cross–left uppercut one-two that fully destroyed Martin’s ability to defend himself. With Martin’s hands down and his noggin basically on a tee, Davis sent him to La-La Land with his traditional closing move: as violent a left hook as can be found in the sweet science today. Martin beat the count, barely, but was in no shape to continue.

Davis is now 30-0 with 28 knockouts. Questions about future opponents dominated his post-fight interviews, but the champ didn’t seem interested in anybody specific. In his head, no opponent is worthy. Tank’s dismissiveness is warranted: Anybody seeking evidence of his invincibility need only rewatch the Martin fight or spend a few minutes on YouTube viewing previous Davis destructions.

Garcia's name came up the most. His already stout popularity went through the roof after an April upset win over Devin Haney. But Garcia's instability away from the gym continues to overwhelm his ring reputation, giving him more to gain than any other potential Davis suitor. Perhaps trying a little too hard to appear eager, Garcia materialized at ringside just moments after Martin got off the canvas, ostensibly to congratulate Davis for the knockout but really to show off a T-shirt asking for a rematch.

What’s in it for the champ? Davis destroyed Garcia last year while fighting at a catchweight limit of 136 pounds; relive the liver shot heard round the boxing world here. Davis made the 135-pound weight limit for the Martin matchup with ease; Garcia, meanwhile, couldn’t even get under 140 when facing Haney, so he'll likely never fight again at anything close to lightweight. Running it back makes little sense from a sporting perspective. 

Boxing is a business, and for all the obstacles Davis–Garcia II would be a box-office sure thing. Garcia has millions of online minions who'd likely eagerly shell out to see their guy try avenging his painful humiliation. Even in the best-case scenario, they'd have a long wait: With a ruling announced Thursday, New York boxing authorities suspended Garcia for a year for having banned PEDs in his system against Haney. Even if Tank gave his blessing, the rematch couldn't happen before next spring at the soonest.

So while Garcia’s on the shelf, the chalk opponent for Davis’s next fight is Vasyl Lomachenko. Promoter Bob Arum, ancient but still a power player, told an interviewer that talks to get Davis vs. Loma started even before the Martin fight. “That’s the fight that everyone wants to see,” Arum said earlier this week. Only a few years ago, the Ukrainian ring genius’s fast fists and ballet-like footwork brought him the same unbeatable aura Davis now has. That lily came ungilded when Loma lost by decision to Teofimo Lopez in 2020 and then to Haney last year. At 36 years old, Lomachenko has likely lost more hand-speed and dancing ability than he can get back, but he’s still got a big name—among Tank suitors, only Garcia's is bigger—so this matchup would do good at the gate.

A Tank–Loma fight could be more chess than combat, but after the Martin KO nobody at 135 would plan a brawl with Tank anyway. Lomachenko would have to fight a perfect fight to win. Does he have one left in him?

Then there’s Shakur Stevenson. The Newark lightweight has the WBC belt and enough name-recognition to be in the mix for Davis. Trouble is, much of Stevenson’s Q rating comes from fighting off the tag as the most boring guy in boxing. He’s 21-0, but with only 10 KOs. “He’ll put anybody to sleep, outside the ring!” quipped former lightweight and super lightweight champ Rolly Romero. (Tank brutally KO'd Romero in the sixth round of their 2022 bout.)

Arum was skeptical about Tank even bothering to consider Stevenson, given the latter’s reputation. As Arum put it: “If that fight is not going to deliver numbers, as far as Davis is concerned, why would he want it?”

Davis, when asked after the Martin fight about giving Stevenson a shot, seemed equally unenthused by the prospect of spending a night chasing somebody unwilling to engage. “You know how it would go,” said Davis. “Everybody in this room knows how it will go.”

The win over Martin, and the brutality with which the fight ended, enhanced Davis’s claim to the unofficial Face of Boxing title. At the post-fight presser, Davis was asked if it bothers him that fans focus on his punching power and don’t think about all the preparation and discipline required to devise and carry out a fight plan as brainy as the one he employed to break down Martin. Davis, whose intellect in battle has gotten the attention of his peers—Canelo Alvarez cited Tank's ring smarts in a 2022 interview when naming him as his favorite fighter—said to let everybody think what they want.

“It’s been going on for my whole pro career, so it's OK,” he said. “It's really like, smart people could play dumb, but dumb people can't play smart. You know what I mean?”

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter