By Paul Magno | May 08, 2023

When Gervonta Davis is hyped as “The Face of Boxing,” it’s nothing but promotion-- a way to sell a fighter and elevate his profile. The backlash to Davis being called “The Face of Boxing,” though, is all old school boxing hate-- with the racial, cultural, socioeconomic bias that still differentiates our sport from more mainstream sports. Facilitating that nastiness is a toxic media establishing the narratives and toxic fans more than willing to buy into those narratives.

Cut to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Cut to Saul Alvarez vs. John Ryder.

The big media voices mostly ignored just how big of an underdog Ryder was. It was mentioned. How could it NOT be? But it wasn’t the story of the promotion. The story was Alvarez coming home to fight for the first time since 2011. The secondary story was: “Is Canelo getting old?” The stories were laid out before the media and they dutifully reported on what they were told to report. Then, the fans, for the most part, focused on what the media put into their eyesight.

For some fighters, the fight is the story, the event is the story. For others, though, the fight and the event are never the prime focus. 

Take Gervonta “Tank” Davis, for example. 

When Davis fights, the fight is way in the background in some quarters. Bias-riding fans and media (and it’s scary to see just how many of them are out there) fill social media with wave after wave of cynical anti-Tank banter. His pay-per-view didn’t really sell THAT well. He’s not fighting the right opponents. This opponent he just beat wasn’t that good, anyway. He’s an asshole. He’s a rotten human being. He’s NOT the face of boxing. Anything to diminish his accomplishments and shift the focus away from the actual ring performances. 

By the way-- THIS is when you know someone’s a boxing star. When they have people hyper focused on bringing them down, diminishing them, and putting endless obstacles between them and the credit they deserve, that’s proof positive that an impact has been made. 

Canelo Alvarez also gets his fair share of this treatment, but there’s special energy reserved for fighters who don’t work within the established old school boxing system. And if those fighters happen to be black, working for a black-run boxing business? That REALLY pisses off some media/fans. Yeah, I said it. Sorry, not sorry. 

Media never embraced the star of Floyd Mayweather and never gave him his proper credit either. By bucking the establishment and working as a free agent over the second half of his career, he made himself an enemy of the system, an enemy of the status quo where all of the sport’s money and power flow first through the hands of its promoters. He wore a target because of this and the media, many of whom are little more than lapdogs for the promoters, tore him up. Fans followed the narratives set by the media. 

Ultimately, though, it didn’t matter. The media has diminished its own credibility to such an extent that they really have no impact on a fighter’s salability anymore. 

The negative energy and cynicism are little more than annoyances right now and testaments to the reality that in this supposed politically correct world, there’s still a lot of racial/social/socioeconomic tribalism out there, even if those lashing out at guys like Davis, Mayweather, etc. aren’t fully aware of the real reason these people piss them off so much. Here’s a hint, though-- it doesn’t really have anything to do with the fighter in question’s opponent selection or how often he fights.

But let’s get back to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and Saul Alvarez vs. John Ryder.

I’m not even going to bother writing this fight up with a Postmortem, like I do after every big fight. It wasn’t really a big fight, at least not competitively. As I wrote last week, it was a vanity fight for Canelo that just happened to bring a packed house with it. Fighters are entitled to vanity fights here and there. Fine.

It was just interesting to see how many “Canelo is the REAL face of boxing” articles members of the media felt compelled to write. It was interesting to see just how much social media space was STILL devoted to diminishing Tank Davis during a Canelo fight week, two weeks after a very successful event with Ryan Garcia that also happened to be a masterful ring performance. 

That may not say much about who’s “The Face of Boxing,” if there is such a thing. It does, however, say a lot about how deeply some people can be buried in their own hang-ups and prejudices. 

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