Belts don’t make fights: Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia
With Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia set to fight this weekend, this is by far the best fight of the year so far. And while there are a few fights that can eclipse this (Crawford vs. Spence, Fury vs. Usyk, Jake Paul vs. Deontay Wilder) the fact that Davis and Garcia have garnered more attention than several big fights this year leads us to the fact that titles don’t sell fights, fighters sell fights.
I’m not here to discredit title fights. In fact, the title on the line often does make a fight that much more interesting, it’s not the sole reason for watching a fight. I’d be willing to say that Oleksandr Usyk having three of the belts against a potential matchup with Tyson Fury sells that fight better than without. But fighters are the product at the end of the day. The walk outs, belts, trunks, fancy gloves and everything else is all for entertainment. At the end of the day, boxing is about two fighters who are trained to fight at the best of their abilities.
Fighters sell’s fights. Excitement sells fights.
Look at this picture. Floyd Mayweather is one of the greatest ever (the greatest if you ask him). He has six belts in this picture. To many people, this is too much and a joke. To others it signifies that Mayweather is dominant. But one thing this picture doesn’t do is sell you on the next fight. Mayweather sells you. You want to watch him lose. You pay him money for Mayweather to show you that he won’t lose.
Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia sell this fight, not the title
The bout this weekend between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia doesn’t have a belt attached to it. It’s an old school grudge match. Mano a mano. This bout shows that with the right kind of promotion and the right fighters involved will produce some exciting buildup and, hopefully, a fun fight to boot.
But this isn’t anything new. Fights have been about the fighters and there has been some great bouts that didn’t have World Titles on the line. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier 2 was without a World Title, George Foreman was the champion at the time. Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano was another.
Even more recently, we’ve seen Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. do over two million pay per view buys. Jake Paul’s whole MO is selling people on watching him box despite not being anywhere near a world champion. Floyd Mayweather has also done a tour of exhibitions with names like Logan Paul, Deji, Tenshin Nasukawa, and Mikuru Asakura all to fans delight. He doesn’t need titles to promote that. He’s a showman.
There’s an artistry behind story telling and boxing does it quite well sometimes. The entire world has built multi-billion dollar industries off of story telling. Television, movies, books, and almost any form of entertainment all tells a story. It’s why people have followed LeBron James since he was in high school. “I remember when he came into the League,” is a common sentiment. We all love to see the story. There’s the underdog, the thrill and agony of defeat and victory.
With boxing, the stakes are the highest. The multi-million dollar purses, the threat of a knockout, and the dream of capturing a championship are all things that attract the human mind. It makes boxing so much fun. This weekend, Davis and Garcia are living out the dream. They are telling the story, one only fit for the boxing ring.
Two men will step into the ring and only one will emerge victorious. They will use their skills, their fists, and their sheer determination to do their best to make sure it’s them that has their hand raised by the end of the night.
So sit back and relax. This weekend is going to be a fun fight and regardless of who wins, one thing is for sure, we will all be there to be entertained.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it.