In 2019, the weed of cynicism is so thickly entwined in much of what we say, read and hear that our collective consciousness is being starved of the sunshine of positivity. Clouding our days and gnawing at our nights. Social media has proved to be the artificial lighting required to fuel rampant growth of an outlook once the preserve of the few but now the default setting for millions. To stretch the metaphor further, cynicism has its dealers and users and the internet offers them anonymity or infamy, subject to preference, as well as an infinite supply of virtual street corners and under the table shadows in which it can be exchanged.
Omnipresent on every platform in which people congregate, irrigated by sarcasm and often recut and repackaged, to avoid scrutiny, as its more palatable brethren; pragmatism and realism, cynicism is far too established to unroot. In the main, it’s origin is merely disguised jealousy. Espoused by the covetous, by those searching for meaning and popularity they cannot otherwise find and loathing those that have.
Accomplishment, effort, courage, success are met with scorn by eager detractors. Should a fighter stumble or crumble, the misfortune attracts a cackle of anonymous hyenas keen to feast on the schadenfreude of it all.
I know, because, like you, I recognise the behaviour in myself. I am trying to be better. Gervonta Davis is the newest recipient of my new, but often erratically applied, benevolence.
Today, two elements of the same news story made me confront just such a tone in the scoff of my instinctive response. The first, Gervonta Davis discovering opponent Abner Mares has been forced out of their WBA Super Featherweight bout next week stirred the cynic. Enjoying his misfortune with the lustre I did speaks more about me as the observer than ever it can about the subject. True, Davis doesn’t aim to please grandmas or seek popularity kissing babies. His persona is built as an echo of those that have gone before him. A shallow facsimile of greater fighters who boxed frequently, against better opponents and accomplished more. They had the credit line to draw upon.
Davis, having boxed 3 rounds in 18 months, much like his erstwhile sibling in silk, Adrien Broner, doesn’t have the type of collateral required to off-set the nonsense.
But with 10 days to go until his title match with Mares, and as a critic of his inactivity, the paradox beneath my ‘serves you right’ response to the news undermines the merit of that reaction. The withdrawal of the wise old former champion is not Davis’ fault after all. To that end, I’m pleased, having reflected more carefully, that he will at least box next week.
The second point, was the appointment of Hugo Ruiz, who boxed as recently as the Pacquiao v Broner card, as Mares’ replacement. A selection which has ignited the assembled on the internet, intent on picking up the baton of my own instinctive response to brow beat Davis. Would I prefer a stronger opponent? Yes. Is that realistic on 10-days notice? Probably not.
Alternatively, would I prefer Davis moth ball his career until Mares is fit or a more dynamic or well known contender is available with full notice? Certainly not.
I began 2019 with the intention of being more positive, more empathetic, more optimistic. Extending understanding to those in the public eye, who’s lives are just as complex, layered and built on the shifting sands of health, wealth and drive as the rest of us.
So Davis gets a pass. Ruiz a virtual medal for saying yes when it would be safer to say no and he gained at least one more dedicated follower in the process. I’ll be tuning in to their bout where I can, hopeful that the New Year will encourage Davis to grasp the impetus of an early February work out and become the active and dangerous prize fighter he really ought to be. That is the key to sustaining my good will; that this fight represents a new beginning for the talented 24-year-old.
And he proves he’s not just tassels and talk.
The fight is available on SHOWTIME in the US.