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Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young presents WBA world champion Gervonta Davis with the key to the city on Wednesday, July 24.
Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young presents WBA world champion Gervonta Davis with the key to the city on Wednesday, July 24. (Giana Han / Baltimore Sun)

In a 14-second video taken at a celebrity basketball game in Miami this weekend and posted on Twitter, boxer Gervonta “Tank” Davis, a celebrated Baltimore native, grips the mother of his child by the front of her jacket, near her neck, and physically yanks her from her seat. He then leads her forcefully toward an exit with one hand, while she clutches her collar, in an apparent effort to keep from choking, as two men follow and the crowd watches.

We don’t know what preceded that moment or what happened after. But do we really need to? A two-time featherweight champion aggressively put his hands on a woman in front of scores of strangers without a second thought. He had everything to lose in that moment, and he put it all aside — his reputation, the city’s adulation, his career — to discipline this woman in this way. There’s no amount of shade she could have thrown to make that OK.

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And all he had to say in his defense regarding this very public incident was this in an Instagram post, since removed: “I never once hit her.. yea I was aggressive and told her come on...that’s the mother of my child I would never hurt her other than that happy New Years..January was trassshhhhh.”

“I never once hit her”? That’s the bar?

His adviser declined to comment over the weekend, and the network Showtime, which broadcast Mr. Davis’ championship fights, declined to comment on Monday. Perhaps they share the same bar.

At the very least, Mr. Davis should have apologized and outlined a plan of action, in concert with his promoters, to ensure nothing like this ever happens again outside of the ring — for his fans if not himself.

Mr. Davis, 25, has been heralded as a Baltimore success story, a kid who turned to boxing to keep out of trouble and became a massive sensation. He’s an inspiration to all kinds of young people, and a role model, whether he wants to be or not.

The city threw him a parade in October; Mayor Jack Young gave him a key to the city in July.

At that summertime event, Mr. Davis said he was “looking forward to giving back to the city on a positive level,” and he talked about how much his little girl — because she’s a girl — had helped him grow.

“My daughter has changed me,” he said. “She has made me grow up quicker because I don’t just have a kid, I have a baby girl. She has made me more patient. I am actually soft when I get around her. I don’t think she changed me as a fighter, but she has changed me as a person. She has helped me mature.”

We don’t doubt he felt those things about Baltimore and his daughter when he said them, but that’s the thing about words: They don’t mean much if they’re not supported by actions.

We’ll grant that this incident wasn’t at the level of the 2014 Ray Rice video, when the former Ravens running back was caught on a security camera knocking out his fiancée (now wife) in a New Jersey elevator. But we’ll never know if that’s because Mr. Davis is above such behavior or because he was in public when this occurred. If he was perfectly willing to manhandle his daughter’s mother at this event, why would anyone think anything less occurs in private? That’s the kind of scrutiny Mr. Davis now faces, and he brought it on himself.

By Monday afternoon, the clip had been viewed 6.7 million times and retweeted 9,600 times — and Mr. Davis had shut down his social media accounts amid widespread criticism.

The outcry online stood in sharp contrast to the stunning lack of concern in the arena, where onlookers treated it all like part of the show. Maybe that’s because it happened so fast, or maybe it’s because the country is becoming inured to violence against women.

So, Mr. Davis, we challenge you to do your part to stop that cycle. Perhaps then you’ll have something to tell your daughter when she sees this video one day. You owe it to her if no one else.

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