Gervonta Davis has been hit with some jabs by Johnny Law in the last few years, but the Baltimore boxer could be about to absorb stiffer punishment stemming from an incident which occurred Feb. 1 in Miami, at a celebrity basketball game.
TMZ got the scoop on the video that went viral, which showed the WBA lightweight champion went at the mother of his baby-daughter, barking at her, yanking her out of her seat at the hoops event, and marching her toward an exit in the arena at the University of Miami.
The video spurred a wicked backlash on social media, with the 25 year old Davis, owning a 23-0 (22 KOs) record fighting under the Mayweather Promotions banner, drawing scorn for acting abusively.
Another shoe dropped on Tuesday, when Coral Gables (Fla.) police put out a release announcing the pugilist had been arrested, for battery/domestic violence.
TMZ had more deets: “The report says Davis dragged the woman off the floor of the celeb game to a separate room — all while grabbing her shirt with his hand close to her throat. When they got to the backroom, cops say video shows Davis “pulling his arm back and then forward towards the victim, which is consistent with a strike to the face where the victim sustained injuries to her lip and left jaw.”
Cops say the woman cooperated with police and provided a written statement saying she was attacked by Davis. She also allowed police to take photos of her injuries,” the mega-popular gossip/news site reported.
Fans of the fighter, who last fought on Dec. 28, when he stopped out past his prime Yuriorkis Gamboa (age 38) in round 12 of a title defense taking place in Atlanta, and screening on Showtime, are wondering how this case will play out.
One long-time fight fan who has a history in the legal system sphere noted to me that often-times, a complainant who has a close relationship to someone charged with battery will back off their statements or initial testimony to authorities. That person noted the phrasing from TMZ, specifically “which is consistent with a strike to the face” might mean that video doesn’t show without a shadow of doubt that Davis struck Dretta Star. If the video evidence isn’t that strong, that could leave room for a suspended sentence, maybe a fine, a mandatory donation to a battered women’s organization and perhaps community service. That is conjecture, of course.
I reached out to the highly regarded attorney Anthony Cardinale (below), a NYC-born and bred criminal defense mastermind, who happens to be a boxing lifer to boot.
The counselor’s pop, Frankie Cardinal, was a .500 welterweight in the 40s who made up for his lack of pop (4 KOs in 43 pro outings) with his chin and admirable stubbornness. After fighting, he had a restaurant, Delsomma, a solid Italian joint, well above .500, Sinatra dug it, in NYC.
The son made Massachusetts his home base as an adult. Tony played football at Wilkes University in PA., went to law school at Suffolk in Boston and then worked for F. Lee Bailey, the most famous attorney in the world, save for Perry Mason, in the 1970s.
He got back to boxing when he repped some local pugs who bounced at The Rat, in Kenmore Square, Boston, near Fenway Park. The bouncers had gotten maybe too rowdy in trying to eject some college boys who didn’t want to adhere to the call for closing time.
(SIDE NOTE: I can attest that Rathskeller bouncers didn’t shy from dispensing tough love taps on unruly patrons. It was 1994, and I lived in nearby Jamaica Plain.
The year before, I lived in an apartment house in Newton, Mass., the landlady had a room to rent, and one of the other roomies had a pal who’d just been let out of the joint.
When the landlady asked me if I was cool with that guy taking a room, I said sure, I don’t discriminate. She didn’t tell me he’d been snagged for dealing cocaine. Or that Big Larry looked like Sonny Bargers’ bigger brother. He was 6-4, had eaten well in lockup, was maybe 285. Zero hair on top, bushy mullet in the back. Nobody busted on Larry for the mullet, for the record. Me and Larry got along, he got a kick out of my youthful energy, we had a similar sense of humor, and I appreciated the cooking skills he’d honed in the penitentiary.
He was meticulous about rendering chicken bones with morsels of meat on it for chicken soup, and fried up pork-chops, simply handled with salt and pepper, never disappointed.
One night, we hit the Rat, not sure why. I felt fearless and in retrospect foolish and for some reason thought it acceptable to pull out a joint I had in my pocket, and spark it up, right near where the band was playing. I think I offered the drummer a hit, and this was not in today’s more permissive era. Bouncers didn’t groove with my merry prankster hijinks, but there weren’t that many people in the establishment, and they knew I was there with Larry.
So, when I went to bathroom, after the smoke-cone burnt to a nub, while Larry flirted with a BU co-ed, the bouncers re-directed me to a stairwell, out of site from the bar-room.
We saw you misbehaving, one said, and we’re gonna tune you up, he promised, as he pushed me down, my back on the stairs. He brought back a fist, was gonna have me seeing stars. But, I had the presence of mind to re-frame the moment. Naw, I didn’t say that the Barger-lookalike would like to make this an even scrum, Larry was busy trying to woo the booze-y lass, and I knew he didn’t want trouble, find himself back in front of a judge.
“I got three sisters, two of them are lawyers, and if you kick the shit outta me, I will sue your ass off!” I barked, suddenly sobered by the prospect of getting pinata-d. Smart kid, this “peace-keeper.” His fist stopped, parked at his ear, and he then dropped up. He yanked me, a 25 year old kid, yeah, still a kid, I wasn’t in a smartened-up mode, by a lapel and told me to grab Larry, and scram. I did.
And may not have ever again hit The Rat, which closed in ’97, before moving to New York in the second half of 1999).
Back to Cardinale. The justice crusaders at the Rat trained at a gym in Southie, Jimmy Connolly’s place he ran with his brother Bill, and the attorney went there to touch base with the clients. Boxing poked at him, as it does with so many lifers–it gets in the blood, and like a dormant virus, can go dark, then pop up, demand attention. Tony’s dad Frankie had a promising heavyweight who seemed like he could be a breakthrough guy–until one day he told the ex pug that he was hanging up the mitts.
Why, then, as things seemed to be on the right track?
All due respect the dude told Tony’s pop, but I don’t want to end up looking like youse. Tony’s dad had a “resume face,” you knew without asking that he’d been a leather swapper, that mashed nose, and the piled up scar tissue ratted him out.
A couple years later, the virus in the quitter exited dormancy, like a herpes flare up.
I want to fight again, the kid, now older, a bit wiser knowing that it wasn’t so easy to make ends meet without education, studying a trade and a strong work ethic. He tracked down Tony, the son of the ex trainer, to get counsel. Tony said the comebacker should go to that gym in Southie, Connolly’s. The gym vibe lured Tony, in fact, he responded to the allure of the vibes of positivity of fired up optimists who fashioned themselves Shamrock-y Balboas on the rise.
There he met his first name client, among pugs, Sean Mannion, a County Galway lad who had no fear, chomped at the bit to get a crack at the much avoided Mike McCallum for his 154 crown and never went down in 59 pro fights. Mannion stepped to the line as a pro in 1978 and Tony played mediator and kept him and Connolly from breaking off from each other after fondness morphed to familiarity and then intermittent contempt. See Cardinale and ask him how Mannion lost 8 pounds in two hours to make weight so a fight wouldn’t fall through–and how Mannion (below) kept his foe aloft to punish him for not cutting him a bit of a break and allowing a pound overage.
Cardinale looked out for the fighting pride of D Street in South Boston, Joey DeGrandis, a contender in the ’90s. Joey had flamed out in Cali, he had skills but not the desire to train his tail off, and also, he liked to party too much. DeGrandis came back to the familiar hood, steered clear of old haunts and the grabby ghosts that would have liked to party it up with the champ, and Cardinale worked the angles to get Joey, who hung ’em up in ’03, title cracks at 168 and ’75.
He aided Jose Rivera, too, another Mass. hitter, who won world crowns at 147 and 154 and yes, had the grit Cardinale liked to welcome to his tent. Rivera debuted as a pro in 1992, and last June, he gloved up again, one last time, and scored a W, at age 45.
Cardinale collected almost as many juicy stories with his time advising John Ruiz, an over achiever who possessed talent, yes, and grit. He bit down and soldiered on after David Tua tried to assassinate him in 1996 (KO 19 seconds into round one of their HBO clash), fought back, and won the WBA heavyweight crown twice (2001, then 2004). See if Don King will tell you about some of the tete a tetes him and Tony Card had, as the attorney leaned in and made clear that he knew of OGs, and no DK would try and hand Jawny the short end of the stick and tell ‘im it’s polished sandalwood, that goes for $2,000 a kilogram. The interplay between Cardinale and Ruiz trainer Norman Stone also would have made for an addictive a reality show.
Boxing has a rich history of being a free-fly zone where angels and devils weave in and out of each others’ airspace, they influence each other, provide proximity and opportunity to shrug off shackles of devious intent and walk on the bright side of the street…or step over the line from rules-follower to rogue operator who decides that the most successful gangsters are elected politicians and CEOs of multi-billion dollar corporations. That variety of character and characters can be intoxicatingly interesting, because, apart from church, you just don’t often see such a variety pak of personalities intermingling.
After Mannion’s star-shine dimmed, Cardinale more often found himself dispensing intelligent advice and dogged defenses for folks like “Fat” Tony Salerno, who was named by Fortune Magazine as No. 1 in their ″The 50 Biggest Mafia Bosses” ranking in 1986. Cardinale relocated to Florida a few years back, but is remembered as a sometimes feisty advocate on behalf of his clients, like John Gotti, and trial-watchers recall the Beantown defender being quite willing to speak truth to power to a judge who maybe seemed to tip overtly to the side of the state.
Cardinale, at the 1992 trial in Brooklyn which saw the “Teflon/Dapper Don” John Gotti facing a life sentence for murder and racketeering, took issue with the judge’s refusal to allow an acoustical engineer to verify that the defense’s transcripts of some taped dialogue were accurate. “You’re telling me I can’t even do that, judge?” Cardinale said. “That’s what I’m telling you,” Judge Glasser countered. “I can’t understand it, and I’m sorry if I’m losing my temper,” the attorney, Frankie’s sometimes pugnacious son said, or, rather, shouted.
Another high-profile client was Gennaro “Jerry” Angiulo, tabbed by the Boston Globe as “underboss of the New England mafia, who ruled the Boston rackets from the 60s into the 80s.” As feds yanked him from Francesco’s Restaurant in the North End in 1983, he yelled, “I’ll be back before my pork chops get cold.” Angiulo would have had a better chance at finishing those chops if Cardinale were able to share knowledge that the FBI’s case against Angiulo was bolstered by a beyond-iffy source. “Whitey” Bulger started working as an informant for the FBI in 1975, and in 1997 it was revealed, by Cardinale, the extent in which the South Boston gangster manipulated the “good guys” in a manner which benefitted him. Bulger helped the FBI bug Angiulo and company in 1980 and Whitey, it was reported, scooped up some business interests Angiulo dropped when he went to prison. Yes, it could be argued that some not unreasonable doubt could have introduced by Cardinale when defending Angiulo. Cardinale gave Bulger some payback when he got the government to freeze $800,000 found when the gangster/rat was caught in Cali, in 2011, after being on the lam since December 1994. Cardinale got a judgement for the family of a man Bulger threatened into signing over his liquor store, at gunpoint.
You get the point; Cardinale is a guy who is like a fighter who wins fights with ring generalship. That boxer can rightfully be called a pugilist, that practitioner uses angles masterfully, and understands better than 99% of the masses what a foe is likely to do next. They pick up on subtleties and nuance, their in ring vision is special. That’s been Cardinale, in his main vocational arena…
So, counselor, what might we expect to see in the progression of the Gervonta Davis basketball game case?
Cardinale pondered, and said he wanted to ask around, pick the brains of Florida barristers who know how the region might handle such a case. He did so, and circled back to me. “It depends on whether it Gervonta is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony,” Cardinale said. “If it’s a felony and he has any prior charges, and is found guilty or pleads, it is likely he would do some time. Domestic battery, what he was arrested for, is classified as a first degree misdemeanor, with penalties that may include up to one year in jail or twelve months probation, and a $1,000 fine. Due to the ‘domestic’ nature of the crime, the accused will face additional mandatory penalties under Chapter 741, Florida Statutes,” Cardinale shared.
–Completion of a 26 week batterer’s intervention program (BIP)
–12 months of probation
–5 days required jail (if the defendant is adjudicated guilty and there is bodily injury)
–Additional community service hours
–Loss of important civil liberties, including concealed carry rights
–Imposition of an injunction or ‘no contact’ order
Gervonta Davis has had run-ins before, but if, as appears, a prior assault charge was settled out of court, that may not be a prior which would activate a penalty, for the basketball incident, that includes incarceration, Cardinale continued.
And now, I asked Cardinale, to take off the lawyer cap. Please, I said, speak more so as person who has seen lots of cycles, and eras, and is astute as hell when it comes to assessing behavior. OK, especially misbehavior.. and seeing over the horizon line into the future of the person who has battled their own instincts and then feels the sting of the unexpected counter punch.
“What I see in situations like this one is young men coming from extremely hard circumstances who’ve been given celebrity status and what seems to them to be a fortune,” Cardinale said. “However, with that celebrity and fortune comes a lot of added baggage, including everyone from family members to hangers-on who are there just to bask in the reflected glory and share in the fortune. But what they really need is support from people in and out of boxing who truly care for them and want them to succeed, not just in boxing, but in life. Looking at the video of this incident is a case study- Gervonta approaches the woman with two people who seem to be “friends” but who instead of steering him away, act as his backup.”
Noted; and, has it always been like this?
Or is this age worse, because we see so much narcissistic signaling and performative behavior going on, to get hits and likes and constant fishing for hits of adoration?
Does all that positioning oneself to get buzz on social media, with that distance between those furnishing the ego stroking and the recipient insulating the object of fascination, fuck up a guy like Gervonta faster and harder than might have been the case in the 70s, 80s, 90s?
“Given his undoubted boxing talent and age, Gervonta has a great future which, unfortunately, can be destroyed in a moment of anger or foolishness,” Cardinale said. “The combination of celebrity and money have always been a minefield in the sport, so it’s really nothing new. What’s different is that it’s coming much sooner today, and therefore it is harder to navigate.”
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