Tank’s performance, like everything else comes with an upside and a potential downside. How he handles both from here will ultimately dictate which is more influential. The end result was the type of punctuation every promoter wants to see in an emerging star. Tank had an explosive uppercut that knocked Santa Cruz out of the fight and placed him in the upper echelon of fighters in the sport that are must watch TV. But when you move beyond the final result, his performance overall left a great deal of room for improvement.
Most had Tank down on the scorecards at the time of stoppage. Some had it 3-2, others had Santa Cruz ahead at the tune of four rounds to one. You have to ask yourself how is this possible with Tank being the fighter most comfortable at that particular weight? Answering that question wasn’t hard. Tank took too many shots and relied on toughness to coast through the fight. That strategy works well against a fighter who isn’t a true lightweight and doesn’t quite pack a lightweight punch.
Can that strategy be adopted to weather the storm of a puncher with thunderous power in both hands like Teofimo Lopez? Can it be used to evade punches from the fastest lightweight in the mix (the 5’10”, 71-inch reach bearing Ryan Garcia)? How about the relative power and skill set of the young Devin Haney? All of these questions raised at some point will be questions answered. But in the interim, that won’t stop fans from debating about the perceived ranking of these talents. Conventional wisdom says Teofimo Lopez has to be the consensus top guy, considering that his victory came over an opponent who has been very established in the division, defeating two highly notable contenders and doing it relatively easily.
Behind Lopez, you have to point to Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who just cemented his position right behind, or some would even argue beside him. Rounding out the bottom end of the group would be Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney. In the case of Garcia, we should know a lot more about him within the next few days as he faces Luke Campbell in a fight that will tell us whether he’s ready for the highest level amongst division leaders or not.
Haney has more fights than practically all of the other lightweights, but his level of competition doesn’t place them on their level. Despite what appears to be a more balanced and polished skill set, he hasn’t faced anyone with the greatness to validate his potential greatness, which leaves him at the bottom of the batch…..for now. It’ll be fun to see it all unfold. Hopefully the year of 2021 gives us fans and media more answers than questions. Stay tuned.
(Vivek ‘Vito” Wallace can be reached at 954.770.9807 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be seen in daily fight threads on FB, as well as Twitter and IG).