Hearn: Canelo, not controversial Davis, is the 'face of boxing'

Eddie Hearn believes that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s fight with John Ryder demonstrates that he, and not Gervonta Davis as has recently been claimed, remains the “face of boxing”.

On Saturday at Guadalajara’s Akron Stadium, and against an opponent considered a significant underdog, the 32-year-old Alvarez attracted a near-capacity crowd in the region of 50,000 in what represented one of the biggest fights of 2023.

Alvarez succeeded Floyd Mayweather as the world’s leading and highest-earning fighter when Mayweather retired in 2017, and while his once remarkable skills appear to be eroding, there is no questioning his enduring commercial appeal.

The fight last month in Las Vegas between Davis and Ryan Garcia – which ultimately attracted Sin City’s fifth highest ever gate – had been billed by those surrounding the promotion as the fight to determine the “new face of boxing”. That the pay-per-view sales reached 1.2m demonstrates the extent to which their rivalry captured the public’s interest, but even after Davis excelled to stop Garcia and the extent to which his profile has consequently grown, Hearn insists that none other than Alvarez remains the sport’s most influential figure.

“That comes with consistency,” he told ProBox TV. “To repeatedly sell out stadiums; do massive gates; come here [to Guadalajara] and do 55,000; the pay-per-views against [Gennady] Golovkin and [Dmitrii] Bivol last year. No one can compete with him globally.

“But Gervonta Davis, before that fight, Gervonta had never done more than 200,000 pay-per-view buys. But that fight took him to another level because of the Ryan Garcia audience. He’s a massive star. He’s definitely not the face of boxing, but he’s one of the top names in boxing for sure. When you talk about the face of boxing, that means going down the street, showing someone a picture and going, ‘Do you know him?’ If you did that globally, who do you think would come out on top? Alvarez.

Last week Forbes had reported that Mexico’s Alvarez is not only the world’s highest-paid fighter, but the fifth highest paid athlete in the world. Davis, 28, was later sentenced to 90 days of home detention followed by three years of probation for a hit-and-rush crash, but his profile may yet be enhanced as a consequence.

“When I saw the [Forbes] list I just screenshotted it and sent it straight to him,” Hearn said. “‘Congratulations.’ We’ve been the reason. Outside of [Caleb] Plant we’ve done his last six fights. Three years. That’s where he’s made the most money in his career. 

“When you talk about the face – that is the face. When you talk money, he’s making double, treble, quadruple what Gervonta Davis is making – every fight – so in that respect there’s a long way to catch up. 

“Being that face of boxing – you don’t have to be a good guy. Some people play out on that. But for me, I like those people, as powerful as they are, to try and be role models and ambassadors for the next generation. If he’s going to be the face – that face [should be] someone that can grow the grassroots of boxing. That parents can go, ‘I don’t mind my child saying I wanna be the next Canelo Alvarez; I wanna be the next Katie Taylor; I wanna be the next Anthony Joshua’. So I do think you have a responsibility. But [Davis] might not give a shit.