Stephen Espinoza has revealed the efforts Showtime went to to keep Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia separate during their press tour to promote Saturday’s fight.
The two fighters will cross paths again on Tuesday for the occasion of their grand arrivals at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, aware that on Saturday, at the T-Mobile Arena, they will confront each other in what could prove their defining fight.
There already existed a deep antipathy between them on the grounds of the rivalry that has built through them being two of the world's most exciting fighters. When the date for their fight was agreed the tension that existed had cause to grow further, and Garcia, already frustrated at the rehydration clause Davis had demanded, became even unhappier when for the first day of their press tour Davis was late.
Garcia, 24, was left waiting almost two hours by Davis for the press conference that was staged last month in New York. For the following day’s press conference in Los Angeles, Davis was punctual, but they were kept separated before and after through fear of a confrontation that could even have jeopardised their fight.
“We really didn’t allow them much interaction, for that specific reason,” Espinoza told ProBox TV. “This is a heated rivalry. There’s some personal animosity. They’ve had confrontations in social settings before, including in the nightclub in Los Angeles, so we went to great pains, during the press appearances, and during the production shoots – which happened after the LA press conference – to make sure that they did not cross paths in any way.
Davis, 28, last year split with his former promoter Floyd Mayweather, but not unlike Mayweather at his peak has demonstrated a desire to get under his rival’s skin. Espinoza, Showtime’s sports executive, oversaw some of Mayweather’s biggest fights, and put into context the concerns surrounding Davis and Garcia when explaining that on those occasions no such barriers were put in place.
“It’s not always a concern for every fight,” he said. “Nor is it always possible. Some of the more extended press tours that we’ve done. [Floyd] Mayweather-[Conor] McGregor and Mayweather-Canelo [Alvarez], which I believe was nine cities, with Mayweather-McGregor being four.
“On each of those, because of private air travel and because of the logistics, there were multiple opportunities for the fighters to interact. At the private airports; sometimes even at a hotel; a restaurant. There was enough of a logistical challenge that you really couldn’t arrange for their paths not to cross outside of the press conferences, given the more extended, complicated schedule on the longer press tour.
“[For Davis-Garcia] we had the luxury of having to arrange two dates and a production shoot over the course of about 48 hours, so it took a little bit of logistics to keep them separate. But had we been on a multi-city tour for several days it would have been much more difficult, if not nigh-in impossible, to keep them from interacting.
“Mayweather-Canelo, no one was concerned about there being any physical confrontation. Certainly there was gamesmanship. Mayweather-McGregor, we certainly walked right up to that line of physical confrontation on multiple occasions, but ultimately those guys were veterans who kept their emotions in check.”