A few months ago, Golden Boy Promotions announced that they had signed homegrown talent Ohara “Two Tanks” Davies. The London native who currently sits on a record of 25-2 with 18 knockouts and has been the mandatory WBA light welterweight challenger to American title holder Rolando “Rolly” Romero for what now seems an eternity.
Though it may be some time before we see the two men trading blows, if ever, Romero has made no secret of the fact he’d rather face commercial wonder kid Ryan Garcia, some time ago the WBA had postponed scheduled purse bids as Romero had submitted undisclosed medical documents for review and now, he is out. The American belt holder has been officially declared as the “Champion in Recess”. The WBA and indeed boxing’s obsession with always making the most ridiculous and self-destructive decision in full effect.
So, in steps the hard-hitting Venezuelan Ismael Barroso, who himself is coming off a controversial ninth round stoppage loss to Romero, the two men battled May of this year and Barroso showed he’s not shot, not yet. The south American puncher is a well-known commodity to us Brits, he starched fan favourite Kevin Mitchell back in 2015 to win the WBA interim crown but was dispatched in seven in his very next fight against Anthony Crolla. The now forty-year-old Barroso will be taking on Davies for the WBA interim light welterweight world title. The two men will collide as chief support to Ryan Garcia vs Oscar Duarte in Houston, Texas on the second of December.
Though Barroso is undoubtably past his best it’s still a good fight and Ohara has certainly earned his shot the hard way, the 31-year-old has had his fair share of ups and downs in his decade long professional career. But in March of this year, it all came good for “Two Tanks” when he beatdown and stopped Geordie record breaker Lewis “The Sandman” Ritson in the ninth round of a WBA final eliminator. At the time Alberto Puello of the Dominican Republic was the WBA king and was booked in to defend against Romero but was stripped of his title and pulled out of the bout in April after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, he was replaced by the now man of the moment Ismael Barroso who was defeated by a controversial ninth round stoppage but showcased the adage of fight in an old dog.
Davies has always had potential, that was never up for dispute. Boxing out of the famed green and gold Repton ABC he reportedly amassed an impressive amateur record of 18-0, although if memory serves, he did in fact drop a decision or two outside of the UK in attempts to make Olympic qualifiers. His amateur days were fun, boxing with the same style he currently possesses but he was far rawer and somehow even cockier, in his first Haringey Box Cup final he was actually slapped by his cornermen for showing off and the commentary team described him as pure perpetual motion, he got the gold. He was not a top level or indeed an overly talented amateur, never putting his stamp on the elite ABA’s or breaking into England teams but he was interesting, he cultivated a sizeable following and using his natural gifts of power, aggression and awkwardness managed to beat some good boxers in the unpaid ranks and this is something that should never be dismissed, a young amateur capturing any amount of interest is about as rare as hen teeth and is the exact reason Eddie Hearn was waiting with open arms. In 2013 he decided to turn over, claiming that no one would box him in a vest. This is almost definitely not true, but who could blame him, he was given the chance to box for serious money, medals and applause were out the window.
Winning his professional boxing debut on the 19th of April 2014 in a four round points victory over Ivans Levickis, the Hackney hard man was off. Boxing under the Matchroom Boxing banner he went 10-0 against a mix of foreign and domestic journeyman and even got a run out in Rostock, Germany in his sixth bout. His first title fight came in 2016 in fight number eleven when he stopped Andy Keates for the English lightweight title at the 02 Arena in London. His next challenge came against the incredibly negative and awkward, probing Italian Andrea Scarpa on the undercard of Katie Taylor’s professional debut. It was an exceptionally dull fight between two awkwardly put together men and it bored fans senseless but Davies got the nod and claimed the WBC Silver light welterweight title, for all that’s worth. He had earned himself a big one and he got it on the undercard of Haye versus Bellew one in 2017, taking on British boxing stalwart “Dirty” Derry Mathews, a veteran of over 50 bouts.
Again, at the 02 Arena, London. Mathews started his career as a featherweight and had probably forgotten more about boxing than Davies could ever know, a former English featherweight champion, WBU featherweight champion, two time British Masters lightweight champion, Prizefighter featherweight finalist and Prizefighter Lightweight semi-finalist, two time British lightweight champion, Commonwealth lightweight champion and WBA interim world champion who had boxed the likes of Stephen Foster, Choi Tseveenpurev, Gary Buckland, Gavin Rees, Anthony Crolla, Terry Flanagan, Tommy Coyle, Luke Campbell and many other stellar names. Mathews had truly been there and done it and possessed tremendous boxing skills and real power but was in his mid-thirties by this point and had racked up an astonishing number of miles. Davies busted Mathews up and stopped him in the third with a well-placed body shot, it must be stated that Mathews was old and didn’t really look up for the fight but Davies did his job and did it well.
Now considered a fully-fledged contender Davies was matched up against fellow young talent and former team GB star Josh Taylor. This fight was marketed as a fifty-fifty affair which either man could take and Davies was even considered to be the favourite but anyone with an ounce of boxing knowledge knew that was not the case whatsoever. On the 8th of July 2017 the two young talents met in the cauldron-like Braehead Areana in Glasgow. Davies made the most of his moment and walked out to the WWE’s Undertaker theme tune, an apt choice for what transpired in the ring.
From round one Taylor was able to dominate Davies with ease, poking him with jabs and punching through his awkward guard at will. The then 26-year-old Taylor put Davies on the canvas in the 3rd with a swift right hand. Davies did rally and showed guts but was simply out classed, his feet were all over the place, his awkward ambling movement being used against him. Lunging in with wild shots Taylor countered him with a huge right and floored him once more in the seventh, Davies beat the count but after taking one more shot from Taylor, he committed one of boxing’s cardinal sins, he turned his back and walked away, Taylor seized his chance, attacking the Englishmen and forcing a stoppage. He was out of his league that night and bested by the superior boxer, there is no disgrace in that. But he turned his back, yes, he should have known better, protect yourself at all times and so on but boxing fans saw it as a submission or even an act of cowardice. Ludicrous criticisms were aimed at him. Davies had a big mouth and had made his share of enemies and this was their chance to give the mouthy show off a pasting.
2017 would prove to be a bad year for “Two Tanks” as he found himself in the national spotlight for one of the flimsiest and childish scandals in modern boxing history. Whilst trying to secure himself a fight against lightweight rival Tommy Coyle, Davies decided to profess his love of the Sun newspaper on twitter, allegedly to enrage Coyle who was and still is an outspoken critic of the newspaper due to its reporting of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. In 2016 Coyle tweeted “Just been offered a free Sun newspaper at petrol station. Out of respect for Liverpool pals and fans I wouldn’t take one if they paid me.” In response Davies took to twitter and in tweets that have now long been deleted he stated “The Sun is my favourite newspaper…I will wear their logo on my shorts and they will work with Eddie Hearn to promote my fight one day” he then went on to tweet Coyle “After I knock you out my first interview will be with the Sun” and used the hashtag “#BuyTheSun”.
Due to these tweets Davies was removed from the upcoming fight card and Eddie Hearn released the following statement “Whilst I believe his comments were made through ignorance, they were unacceptable and highly offensive to many of our friends, fighters and to a city we have a huge amount of respect for.” Davies was also suspended from his gym by his trainer Tony Sims and manager Charlie Sims, the same gym Conor Benn now trains out of. The whole situation seemed completely blown out of proportion. Did Ohara really write those tweets in order to disrespect the memory those who died in 1989 or as an insult to the city of Liverpool or even in support of tabloid lies?
It just does not seem likely; he has actually gone on record to say that he was completely unaware of the disaster or the papers history in Liverpool and he seemed truly sincere. The lesson Davies needed to learn from this mess was to not speak on issues you do not have a requisite knowledge of, but did he really deserve to be shunned?
And why were Hearn and Co not equally punished or at least held to some small account, it’s no secret that promoters like a fighter with a big mouth and if we are all honest the only reason Hearn signed Davies in the first place was that big mouth. The whole situation was a hot mess, delicacy and discretion apparently were not an option. As recent events regarding the aforementioned Connor Benn have shown, those in power learnt no lessons.
A few weeks later he announced that he had left Matchroom and his training team and had signed with MTK management. He claimed that he’d been thrown under the bus by Eddie Hearn and that Matchroom had kicked him to the curb. This was somewhat clarified a few months ago when for the first time in over five years Hearn and Davies exchanged words about the incident on camera with IFL. Hearn told Davies “You were never kicked out of Matchroom! You gotta stop getting this in your head, you never got kicked out of Matchroom, you had no contract we said we didn’t want to work with you anymore.” So not kicked out, just not wanted. All in all, it was a sorry affair fuelled by ignorance and panic, cowardice and twitter nonsense. It could have all been handled better and Davies didn’t need to be exiled into the wilderness but he was and it’s in the wilderness that he rebuilt himself.
He dropped a unanimous decision to Jack Catterall in 2018 and again pundits and fans told him to quit but look what Catterall has gone on to do and prove. And Davie’s definitely did not best former champ Miguel Vázquez in 2019 though his record says otherwise. But since his fall from grace the braggadocios brawler has scored nine wins in ten bouts and his recent-ish stoppage victory against Ritson shows that there is plenty of fight left in the “Two Tanks” yet.
“Rolly” Romero is a very decent fighter but he is certainly no Josh Taylor and for the time being he is nothing to worry about, Ismael Barroso is the man who stands in the way of true retribution, who stands in the way of everything Davies ever promised and was promised, it’s by no means going to be easy, Barroso is still game and Davies is still flawed but it’s doable. Ohara may find himself at the top of the mountain yet and perhaps Golden Boy promotions is a good move for him, in Oscar De La Hoya he may have found the only promoter in boxing as skilled in the art of eating one’s own foot as himself.