Two weeks ago, Vasyl Lomachenko, the World Boxing Organization’s reigning super-featherweight champion and perhaps the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, called out Floyd Mayweather Jr. by name and one of his proteges by implication.
He was talking, it seemed, about Baltimore’s Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who, until failing to make weight before his last fight, was the International Boxing Federation’s super-featherweight champion.
In an interview last week with FightHype, Mayweather, the retired champion and now Davis’ promoter, said his fighter has told him that “this is the fight that I want.” But Mayweather said he has cautioned the 23-year-old about a too-busy schedule.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to say, ‘Tank, there’s no rush. You’re still young. If you want to fight, there’s plenty of fights. You got a lot of fights left in you. You’re only 22, just turning 23 years old,’ ” Mayweather said. “If he wants to fight till he’s 36, 37, he’s still got 15 years left. He’s OK. But if you rush and fight all the hard fights right now, you ain’t going to be able to make it to 38 or 39 in the boxing business.”
The two fighters are coming off victories to drastically different acclaim. Before Davis’ Aug. 26 bout against Francisco Fonseca, the co-main event of the Mayweather-Conor McGregor megafight, he showed up an hour late to the weigh-in and came in 2 pounds over the limit.
Stripped of the title, Davis still earned his 19th win in as many fights, but not without controversy. He won the fight via knockout in the eighth round after his final punch hit Fonseca in the back of the head, an illegal strike that the referee did not detect.
In Lomachenko’s last fight, on Dec. 9, the 29-year-old (10-1) handed the previously undefeated Guillermo Rigondeaux his first loss since 2003, when he was still an amateur. Rigondeaux retired on the stool after the sixth round — Lomachenko's fourth consecutive opponent to do so — and didn't land more than three punches in any round, according to CompuBox.
"This is something really unique," said Top Rank's Bob Arum, the promoter of Lomachenko. "I'm seeing something so special, it will have to be part of history. I've been around a long time and I have never seen anyone coming up like him. None of them, none of them compare to him.”
Mayweather, who said he wishes Lomachenko “nothing but the best,” told FightHype the Ukrainian should not “ever let nobody put no battery in your back to pump you up to talk disrespectful about no fighter that’s with me,” referring to his tweets last month. “Because I’m not hiding nobody. Tank wants to fight you. Tank ain’t hiding from you. Tank wants to fight you.”
He also suggested that money could be a factor. Lomachenko and Rigondeaux were guaranteed a purse of $1.2 million and $400,000, respectively, for their bout, hosted in Madison Square Garden and televised on ESPN. Mayweather, who split with Arum in 2006 to promote his own fights, said that “if it’s a fight of that magnitude, the money got to be better. … At the end of the day, learn the business part. The business part is this: Tell your promoter to pay you. You’re getting $1.2 [million]. You should’ve got $2.5 [million].”