CHICAGO – The type of opportunity a boxer has to jump on right away is rare. Donovan George found himself in this situation in April when he was offered to fight Alexander Brand in Colombia on less than three weeks notice.
George, who was offered the fight for the IBO super middleweight title, agreed to fight for little money and the support of those around him. George planned to travel just with fellow fighter Mike Jimenez as his chief second and Fernando Hernandez as his trainer, a fill in due to his normal trainer, Sam Colonna, preparing Andrzej Fonfara for a showdown with light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson.
“When opportunity knocks, you’ve got to answer,” George said at the time. “I’m not a fool and I know that this isn’t a serious world title but this is a small version of a world title. It can catapult me to where I want to be.”
Unfortunately for George, the fight was cancelled a week before due to an injury suffered by Brand. Suddenly, the chance for a fight to propel his career was gone.
But opportunities can always pop up again. Only a month after his fight with Brand was cancelled, George was offered another shot at the IBO title – this time against Dyah Davis on the field of his childhood team, the Chicago White Sox.
George didn’t hesitate. His need for the fight this time was even greater. The 30 year old found out during that extra month off that he and his wife were expecting twins.
“This is going to be a humongous year for me,” George said. “I’ve got twins coming. I’ve got a world title fight coming. I can’t be selfish anymore and can’t keep doing things my way. I’ve got mouths to feed. It’s really make or break it for me with this fight.
“If it doesn’t work out, I have to grow up and get a real job,” George added. “I don’t want to do that. “
George and Davis will meet Saturday at US Cellular Field in a true crossroads fight. The fight won’t be televised, but that doesn’t change each fighter’s desire to win.
Like George, Davis didn’t know the fight was coming. Davis, who has lost two out of his last three fights, received the call after he wrapped up a session in the gym. He arrived at his home and right before he turned on his television, Davis’ phone rang.
“I asked for them to send the contract right away,” Davis said. “I definitely think it’s a crossroads matchup for both of us. We both practically have the same record and have had ups and downs.”
Those ups and downs include losses in the past year. In 2013, George campaigned at middleweight before being thoroughly outclassed by Caleb Truax in six rounds on “Friday Night Fights.” Before that, he also received a disputed draw against David Lopez.
Davis, on the other hand, traveled to London to try and upset prospect James DeGale. DeGale won a lopsided decision, all three scores being 118-110. Two fights before, former WBC titleholder Sakio Bika stopped him in Round 10.
To prepare for the fight, each fighter is trying to establish something new. For Davis, it was a no brainer – he called his dad and asked him to reunite as his trainer. Howard Davis Jr., the 1976 Olympic gold medal winner, was back in his son’s corner for the first time since Davis’ draw against Francisco Sierra in 2011.
“I’m glad I brought my dad back in,” Davis said. “We bumped heads earlier in my career. Now that I’m older in my career, I’m more willing to try the things he wanted me to do then. When I was younger, I wanted to fight my own style and not be like him.”
George instead went away from his father, Peter George, as a trainer. George has worked with Colonna for the past few fights and the two are starting to develop chemistry together. George, who hasn’t fought since April, said the extra time in the gym has allowed him to improve further.
“It’s been a blessing because for the first time in my life, I’m really learning,” George said. “There were a couple years there where I wasn’t getting any better. Now I feel like I’m learning technique and the little things. It’s not going to change who I am — I’m still going to get hit — but if I can add a little more skill and a little more head movement, I know I am a grade above Dyah Davis.”
As they trained, the two were very familiar with each other. When George was training in Florida for the Truax fight, George met Davis. Both said they had a lot of respect for each other.
That didn’t stop them from having a great deal of confidence about how the fight will go. Davis and George both know what a win would mean to them.
“I think this fight will put me back in the mix,” Davis said. “It puts me back in the mix of the best super middleweights of the world. It lets them know that I’m here to stay.”
“If I don’t win this fight, I really have to analyze where my career is at and where it’s going if I can’t beat Dyah Davis,” George said. “And that’s not a shot at Dyah Davis. We both have an opportunity for the winner to prolong their career. The loser is pretty much s__t out of luck. If we can’t win at this level, then where are we going?”