Ryan Garcia’s growing “frustration” at Gervonta Davis’ lateness led to him demanding they start promoting Saturday’s fight without his opponent.
The 24-year-old cut a professional figure when he conducted interviews while being forced to wait almost two hours by his long-term rival at last month’s press conference in New York.
Away from the microphones and cameras, however, he and those around him questioned why promoters PBC and broadcasters Showtime couldn’t proceed without the 28-year-old Davis – contributing to the “high degree of tension” that existed when Davis finally showed his face.
“I think there was some gamesmanship there – a little bit of mental warfare,” Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza told ProBox TV. “This was the first time the guys had been together in an official setting, so it would not be unusual or unexpected for there to be some mental gamesmanship and some psychological warfare. If making someone wait over an hour was intended to get some sort of reaction – that may have been his objective.
“I wouldn’t say that Tank was apologetic, at least not to Ryan. He made some general statements of apology for keeping the press and everyone else waiting, but I’m not sure he was particularly concerned about making Ryan wait.
“Whether it was a quirk in his schedule, poor planning, or intentional gamesmanship, I didn’t get the sense he felt particularly bad about making Ryan wait.
“Tank doesn’t have the best track record for being on time. I can’t say his lack of punctuality was unique to Ryan or unique to this situation. So it may just have been one of Tank’s bad habits of running late. But given the animosity and the rivalry, and what is at stake in the fight, I did expect some sort of gamesmanship. Not necessarily being late, but this was the first opportunity that each of them get to start their positioning, psychologically and otherwise.
“We were all getting real-time updates, but when someone’s running late it’s human nature to estimate that you’re going to be there quicker than you are, which just added to the frustration.”
After their rivalry had been building for years Davis and Garcia encountered each other not only in New York, but the following day in Los Angeles, presenting each fighter with a chance to gain an early psychological edge.
“There was a high degree of tension in the air, because of the trash talk that had been happening, off and on, for a couple of years – some of it very personal,” said Espinoza, Showtime’s sports executive. “Because of the rather heated rivalry that’s developed, and because of the stakes.
“Members of Ryan’s team, and Ryan himself, expressed at the lack of professionalism – at the amount of time that passed before he showed up. They pressed us to start the event without Tank – before he got there.
“I don’t fault Ryan’s team at all. They were appropriately frustrated but they were mainly professional. Even after the long delay, both Tank and Ryan stayed there and did everything that we asked of them.”