In a sport where the loudest, the brashest, the boldest shit-talkers usually get the most attention, Gervonta Davis has quickly earned serious consideration as a future star by pummeling opponents and getting a coveted co-sign from Floyd Mayweather—all while barely speaking above a whisper.
You see, bragging and boasting just isn’t his style. Even if rocking iced-out chains and designer duds these days are. A proud member of Floyd’s TMT squad, the IBF super featherweight champ had Floyd bestow him the title of boxing’s next star which is why you'll see him fighting on the Mayweather-McGregor undercard Aug. 26. While the 22-year-old Baltimore native's opponent is still TBD, it will be a dream come true to fight on boxing's most lucrative night.
“Every pro fighter obviously wants to be that pay-per view star,” says Davis. “It’s more money. The numbers that Floyd has done on pay-per view inspires me to be that pay-per view star.”
You may have seen Davis on stage with Mayweather during his promotional world tour with Conor McGregor, but before he witnessed the Mayweather-McGregor circus, the new Under Armour athlete stopped by Complex to talk about his rise in the world of boxing, his preparations for the biggest showcase of his career, his relationship with Mayweather, why Conor has no shot of beating Floyd, and what it’s like to spend a night out in Vegas with Floyd.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Your punching power might best be described as savage. So tell me where it comes from.
I believe my punching power just comes from over the years of training, just how I throw my punches. The way you hit them. Being accurate.
When did you know boxing was your thing?
I think I was about 10 years old when I won my first championship. That’s when I knew I had what it takes.
Floyd has called you the next big thing in boxing. When you first heard Floyd say that what did you think?
It was actually shocking. Floyd don’t talk about anyone like that. When I heard it come out of his mouth it was shocking. I knew I had what it took to be the next big thing and take over the sport. Just hearing it from his mouth gave me that extra boost.
What intangibles do you have that makes Floyd say you’re the next big thing in boxing?
I believe he sees a little of him in me. When he was "Pretty Boy" Floyd.
Has he talked to you about what it’s going to take to assume that mantle as the next big thing in boxing?
Just staying focused and staying hungry. Continue to work hard. Be that next PPV star. I already have the character and skills. I’m not too flashy, but flashy.
You want to be a PPV guy. And not a guy that fights on free TV. We’ve seen boxing have success with their telecasts broadcast on free TV, like the most recent Manny Pacquiao fight. But you want to be a PPV fighter. What’s the motivation behind that?
I would like to be PPV. I don’t want to fight on nothing else but PPV. Every pro fighter obviously wants to be that PPV star. It’s more money. The numbers that Floyd has done on PPV inspires me to be that PPV star.
"I remember some years ago when Meek Mill walked up to me when I was watching a Floyd Mayweather PPV in the bleachers and not on the floor and he walked over to me and said, 'You’ll be next.' I just worked my way up and it feels great.
You’ve talked about wanting to follow Floyd’s lead and Floyd has obviously taken you under his wing. What aspects of Floyd the fighter do you want to follow specifically?
When Floyd locks in on training, he’s very focused. Him working so hard inspires me to work hard.
What about Floyd the entertainer? The way he goes about publicizing himself and promoting his fights, do you keep that in mind.
Yes because that draws people, that draws fans. Some might like it, some might not. Either way, they’re watching. He’s great at that.
What’s the best piece of advice he’s given you?
Save your money.
Why have you become the brightest prospect out of Mayweather Promotions. Floyd’s been promoting for a little bit but none of his guys have enjoyed the success you have?
Because I have the skills. Not to say the other guys don’t have skills. I have top skills. I believe I’m an elite fighter. I can say I’m going to be one of the big names like Floyd Mayweather. Not saying I did what he did already because time will tell. I’m working my way up. I believe, he believes I have the skills to be that next Floyd Mayweather.
The cliché in boxing is you take it one fight at a time. But what are you grand aspirations, your goals for your career, 5, 10 years down the line?
In boxing, I want to be a household name. As a person, I just don’t want to be a PPV star, I want to be a star all around. I want to be able to help my people. Give my knowledge to the next generation so they can build their family up to a nice level that they’re comfortable with.
How much of Baltimore do you bring with you into the ring?
Every time I step into the ring. Every time I train in Baltimore to keep that hunger in me, seeing the good and the bad in Baltimore keeps me grounded.
So your next fight. Nothing’s been announced. Where do we stand?
I’m the co-main event. I have two guys that they’re looking at for me to fight. Trying to work on the best matchup.
What would it mean to you to be the co-main event on the biggest
I remember some years ago when Meek Mill walked up to me when I was watching a Floyd Mayweather PPV in the bleachers and not on the floor and he walked over to me and said, “You’ll be next.” I just worked my way up and it feels great.
And Floyd wants you to work your way up to a possible showdown with Vasyl Lomachenko. But not yet.
Not yet. But we will get there.
Is that someone you keep in the back of your mind?
I keep all the champions in mind knowing I’m going to compete with them some day.
Since you’re fighting on the undercard of Mayweather-McGregor, give me your unbiased thoughts on the fight if you possibly can.
I hope it be a great night of boxing, a great event. I see McGregor working hard. Floyd working hard. So we shall see Aug. 26
So do you give McGregor an actual shot?
Is it just an impossible task for him to start training for boxing the past few months and go up against the best defensive boxer we’ve ever seen in Floyd?
I don’t believe McGregor will have the skills, the will, the mobility to beat Floyd. Floyd’s a great fighter, a smart fighter. We just have to see.
Is Mayweather-McGregor good for boxing?
Floyd he did his thing for the sport. He don’t have nothing else to prove. It’s an event. I don’t think it’s for boxing. It’s an event that people are going to have a nice time. It’s great for the sport and for MMA. It’s going to be a lot of great fighters on the undercard so it’s going to be great and bring in a lot of money. The people that’s involved in the event, fighting on the undercard will be making top dollar.
What is a night out with Floyd like?
Outstanding. He’s a great guy. Just being around him, just having him in my corner, backing me up, even still when he calls me, I wait a minute and think how I have Floyd Mayweather calling me. It’s crazy. It feels amazing.
What’s something about the Floyd the individual, away from the ring, that’s misunderstood?
He’s a good person. He helps a lot of people. He’s a caring person and they don’t show that side of him. He’s a caring person more than people think.
You're one of the most soft-spoken boxers I’ve ever talked to. So what gets you amped up?
Me being around my friends, I get amped up just being around them. We play a lot. Or in the ring I be amped up.
What does a knockout feel like?
Amazing. It releases what I’ve been through growing up in the inner-city of Baltimore. That’s when you see me jump up in the ring and beat my chest.