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Davis and Mayweather Promotions turn the page

Junior lightweight world titleholder Gervonta Davis' relationship with promoter Floyd Mayweather seemed to be disintegrating last year. But that seems to be in the past, and Davis is looking forward to being back in the ring Saturday night.

The great thing about social media is that you can express yourself for the world to see. And the worst thing about social media is that you can express yourself for the world to see -- and those messages are embedded in perpetuity.

Last year was a frustrating one for Gervonta "Tank" Davis, the talented 24-year-old Baltimore native, who faces Hugo Ruiz (39-4, 33 KOs) on Saturday night at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. While he captured the WBA 130-pound title by blowing out the usually durable Jesus Cuellar in three rounds in April at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, it turned out to be his lone appearance of 2018.

As the months passed after his encounter with Cuellar, Davis was unafraid to express his dissatisfaction with the way his career was being moved and aired his grievances out publicly in regard to Mayweather Promotions. And he wasn't afraid to engage with those who questioned him.

Yes, Tank is just as combative outside the ring, as he is inside of it.

"A lot of fighters get frustrated when they're not active," said Davis (20-0, 19 KOs), who was expecting to face Abner Mares on Saturday before Mares pulled out of this fight because of an eye injury on Jan. 30.

Davis wasn't just antsy to fight, he seemed downright disgruntled with the whole arrangement with Mayweather Promotions, and it seemed his relationship with Floyd Mayweather was disintegrating. At times, this conflict seemed to be about more than just boxing.

"It was just that I was frustrated because I wasn't fighting, but I also know that things get hectic around the end of the year. I was getting into trouble, too," Davis said.

As the calendar turned to 2019 and Davis was given an early date on Showtime, it looks as though things are now copacetic between everyone involved.

When asked if the relationship had been mended, Leonard Ellerbe, the head of Mayweather Promotions, told ESPN.com, all is good.

"Sure, sure it has. A lot was blown out of proportion and he'd be the first to admit it," Ellerbe said. "It's not anything to go into detail, there was a lot going on in his life. See, as media people and the fans, all they're concerned about is guys fighting and fighting and fighting, but a lot of times things that go [on] behind the scenes that affect a young man's, a young woman's life. They're not in a position to go out there and be the best that they can be.

"He became a father, for a young man -- and this being his first child -- you're going through a lot of emotions, a lot is expected upon you. A lot of people looking up to you and you don't want to let people down and, you know, just being a young man inspired to do all these other things. And again, you have to experience these things in life, learn from it. The most important thing, and where I'm so proud of him, he accepted responsibility for the actions that he took and what caused all of that."

Davis' trainer is Calvin Ford, who has worked with the hard-hitting southpaw since his amateur days. Ford has mentored many young men just like Davis throughout the years. He is most notable for being the inspiration behind the character Dennis "Cutty" Wise on "The Wire," the acclaimed TV series that looked at various components of urban life in Baltimore.

To him, what Davis is going through is the normal process of life.

"I know, as a man, he's got to go through it. It's going to make him who he's going to be," Ford said. "I see it every day. That's what's going to mold him, the things that he goes through. Because a lot of things came quick. We didn't expect it to happen this quick. So when he goes through these things, all I can do is whisper in his ear and let them learn from it, and he comes around. When I think he's not listening, he's listening. We all grow up from our mother and father and they'd tell us to do things: Do we really listen? Reflect back when you were young."

Davis being sidelined last year was perhaps beyond his control, but not making weight for his bout against Francisco Fonseca, on the Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard in the summer of 2017, and getting stripped of his IBF junior lightweight title, was within his control.

The hope is that instances like this are a thing of the past.

"He's at the point in his life where he's supposed to be, right now. The only thing he has to do is cross that line and be who he wants to be," Ford said.

Ellerbe will tell anyone who will listen that Davis is the next pay-per-view star. Whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen, but if there's anyone who understands that the path to stardom isn't always straight and convenient, it's Ellerbe, who has been Mayweather's right-hand man for more than two decades.

Before he became a pay-per-view titan and procured nine-figure paydays, Mayweather was one who often clashed publicly with his promoter (sound familiar?), called an HBO multifight deal a "slave contract" and played in relatively empty buildings in Fresno, Miami and Portland. There were plenty of bumps in this road.

Building a boxer into a bona fide franchise is a process, one that often takes time and patience. And it's Ellerbe's job to explain such things to young men who often can't see the forest through the trees.

"We have these conversations -- and we had this conversation last night at dinner -- it's a process with this," Ellerbe said. "And having the patience and understanding and having the trust in your team. He's not with a team that doesn't know how to build a megastar. He trusts his team and he knows he's got to do his part, we're going to do our part. The sky's the limit.

"It was the same way with Floyd," Ellerbe recalls with a chuckle. "It's the same way. You know I've been there from day one. We had to go through it initially. He didn't get it. He didn't get it and he was frustrated. But then when it comes together, it comes all the way together."

The plan calls for three appearances in 2019, and there's no doubt Davis will get plenty of exposure. He just has to do his part. The social media maven admitted that seeing memes of him as a Cabbage Patch doll, as he got up in weight, motivated him to get back into the gym.

Davis says he believes he's not only the best fighter at 130, but also 135. He'll get a chance to make his case from this point.

"I try to stay focused on the task that's in front of me. Now that I get it, I know I could be a big star, " he says. "So basically it's just that, and staying in the gym, staying out of trouble, just listen to my corner and the people around me."

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