Floyd Mayweather has claimed that he knew Gervonta Davis was special when the youngster asked for a selfie with him back in 2013 whilst he was on a promotional tour for his fight against Saul Alvarez.
Davis, who will make his first title defence against Liam Walsh at London’s Copper Box Arena this evening, approached Mayweather for a picture and the other people nearby told the unbeaten ‘Pretty Boy’, “he’s the next big thing.”
“We took a photo and when I looked at him I thought there was something about that kid that made him look special,” Mayweather recalls.
“So he came to my gym and boxed another fighter… he had a special look about him.”
Now, his protege will face his biggest test yet against Liam Walsh, an undefeated 31-year-old who has a record 21-0 fights under his belt.
At over double Davis’ statistics for rounds (50-131), Mayweather will be cautious not to let his fighter get too carried away in the public eye, however confident he might be behind closed doors.
Geronta Davis impressed Mayweather with his fighting style and gritty determination despite going through a troubled childhood
Mayweather has taken the 22-year-old under his wing and despite his troubling childhood, Davis has worked his way up with the help of Floyd Mayweather, who now see ‘Tank’ - Davis’ nickname - as a son.
“I would definitely be in jail or dead,” Davis said.
He also confessed that he has difficult memories of his parents’ drug habit, scrounging for food, foster care, and Baltimore gang wars that cost the lives of his friends.
“I’ve been through a lot so there’s nothing the next person can do to hurt me.”
His nickname ‘Tank’ comes from the perception he had a large head as a child and he has his uncle to thank for taking his fighting from the streets to a gym where he began his journey to become a boxer.
But, Mayweather fears the lure of the Baltimore city still has a hold over him.
“Even though he’s quiet, he can surround himself with the wrong individuals. He wants to be in the inner city as that’s where he comes from…”
His aggression in the ring will see him continue to win, but he needs to be guided correctly – hopefully Mayweather can give him that.
He certainly gives him praise and confidence, telling BBC Sport: “Dynamite in both hands. Extremely fast. His fight game says he’s cocky and arrogant – he doesn’t have to say it with his mouth.”
For now, Gervonta Davis needs to be solely focused on Liam Walsh.
Walsh is no pushover. Having overcome a serious injury from a car accident, the 31-year-old is just as gritty as Davis.
Walsh’s promoter Frank Warren says Liam is “underestimated,” and said that Davis’ lack of fights abroad could see him looking back into his corner and questioning the difference in atmosphere, fighting style and pressure.
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