Tank, Benavidez, and the Quest for the Next American Boxing Superstar

American boxing superstar search

Oscar De La Hoya made the transition seamless. As his physical prowess waned, he passed on the ultimate gift for top fighters — not the fabled punching power, but the true last vestige of greatness: earning power. This was gifted to boxing’s next superstars during his final fights.

De La Hoya’s losses to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, within a 19-month span, allowed both fighters to seize the spotlight. They had to prove their greatness, beat elite opponents, and master self-promotion. Yet, De La Hoya gave them a significant boost.

Mayweather, anointed the next American boxing superstar by De La Hoya, transcended his expected reach. Despite Pacquiao’s global fame, Floyd became the top global draw, highlighted by their head-to-head victory and four of the top-selling pay-per-views in history. “Money May” dominated the boxing world for a decade, from his 2007 victory over De La Hoya to his 2017 bout with Conor McGregor.

Mayweather’s retirement left a void; he did not pass his earning power to a successor. Since then, no American boxer has reached his level of superstardom.

Despite having notable figures like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Anthony Joshua, and Tyson Fury, none are American. The likes of Terence Crawford, Deontay Wilder, and even Jake Paul have flirted with superstardom but haven’t quite reached it.

Seven years without a new American boxing superstar is a significant dry spell. The big question remains: When will it end, and who will end it?

This Saturday, Gervonta “Tank” Davis and David Benavidez, co-headline a PBC pay-per-view at the MGM Grand, against Frank Martin and Oleksandr Gvozdyk respectively. These two fighters hold the greatest potential to fill Mayweather’s shoes.

Davis is arguably closest, having generated 1.2 million PPV buys with his knockout of Ryan Garcia in April 2023. Despite his subsequent jail time and inactivity, his steady rise, marked by strong ticket sales across major cities, indicates his superstar potential.

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Benavidez, though not as advanced in his journey, is creating a buzz, particularly among Mexican and Mexican-American fans. At 27, he has the backing of a passionate fan base and the talent to support it.

At 29, Davis is in his prime, much like Mayweather was when he defeated De La Hoya at 30. Both Davis and Benavidez show promise in the crucial areas of skill, fan-friendly fighting styles, and charisma. Their future fights will be pivotal in determining their rise to superstardom.

Other American fighters, like Jaron “Boots” Ennis, Vergil Ortiz Jr., Jared “Big Baby” Anderson, and Ryan Garcia, also have the potential but face various challenges. Even Jake Paul, despite his unconventional path, cannot be entirely dismissed.

A wildcard remains Terence “Bud” Crawford, who at 36, might still seize the spotlight if he faces and defeats Canelo Alvarez.

Davis and Benavidez, however, seem to have the fewest caveats. Both rank high in skill and marketability, with Davis’ sizable fan base and Benavidez’s growing support from a loyal ethnic fan base.

Saturday’s fights won’t immediately resolve the superstar quest but will provide insights. With Davis and Benavidez headlining, the next American boxing superstar could very well emerge from this weekend’s event.

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