It’s one Garcia down, one to go for five-time, three-division champion Gervonta Davis.
Davis won a clash of southpaws over a crafty, game veteran in rising former WBA 130-pound titlist Hector Garcia by ninth-round TKO in defense of his WBA 135-pound title on Saturday after battering the Dominican so badly in the eighth round that he complained of impaired vision and remained on his stool before a sold out crowd of 19,731 at The Capital One Arena on Saturday.
“I knew I caught him good, but I didn’t realize I had caught him like that so much that he wouldn’t come out for the ninth. But when I returned to my corner, I told my coach between rounds that I knew I was about to knock him out because I had started touching him more,”
Davis, who led, 79-73 on two judges’ cards and 78-74 on a third, out-landing Garcia, 99-55 overall, 73-50 in power shots and 26-5 in jabs.
“I didn’t think it was close because I was landing the cleaner shots. The most he was doing was hitting me with a jab, and I don’t feel as if that’s winning. I felt as though he was trying to set me up, so I couldn’t just go out there and throw punches. When you have somebody like that, it’s more about beating them mentally. That’s basically what I was doing, not trying to run into any shots. I was trying to catch him good, but not let him catch me.”
The fight-ending sequence culminated over the final 21 seconds of the eighth, starting with a left and, with 18 seconds remaining, another clubbing left to the top of the head which wobbled and nearly dropped Garcia.
“Tank was hitting him with some shots and whatnot, and then, when Tank came back to the corner after he had been putting some shots together,” said Calvin Ford, Davis’ career-long trainer.
“But I didn’t realize that he had hit him so hard to make him not want to come back out. Those are the kinds of wins that I like, when he’s putting everything together and showing all of the talent that he really has.”
In victory over the 31-year-old Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs), Davis (28-0, 26 KOs) is set to face hammer-fisted 24-year-old Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs) in an April 15 bout considered to be among the sport’s most highly anticipated.
“If it’s up to me, then Ryan is definitely next. We’ve somewhat got everything going in the right direction,” said Davis, 28. “We’re just waiting for Ryan to accept on his side and let’s get the job done.”
A Baltimore native who may be boxing’s biggest draw this side of three-belt welterweight champion Errol Spence and four-division champion Canelo Alvarez, Davis competed in his fifth straight pay per view headliner and sold out the venue for the eighth consecutive time.
Competing in his first bout in Maryland since July 2019 when 14,686 witnessed his second round TKO of Ricardo Nunez at Royal Farms Arena in his native Baltimore, “Tank” also earned his 18th knockout in his past 19 fights as well as his second straight and fifth in as many victories over previously undefeated foes.
“I’m just appreciative and thankful to be able to do that and to sell out in places all over the country. For all of the places that we have gone, it’s been amazing, and I don’t take it for granted,” said Davis, whose 96-percent knockout ratio ranks second among world champions to that of IBF/WBC 175-pound titleholder Artur Beterbiev (18–0, 18 KOs).
“We’ve been able to put on a great show for the beautiful fans in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area, and I’m not just talking about my fight, but the whole card. It was great to see. There were great fights, and upsets on the undercard. There’s more to come in the future.”
A 2016 Olympian from the Dominican Republic, Hector Garcia was two bouts removed from February’s one-knockdown, upset near-shutout unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Chris Colbert.
A late replacement against Colbert after WBA 130-pound champion Roger Gutierrez tested positive for Covid-19 three weeks before the fight, Garcia was more than a 20-1 underdog against Colbert, who entered at 16-0 (6 KOs).
Garcia won his next and last fight in August by unanimous decision to dethrone Gutierrez, who entered at 26-3-1 (20 KOs).
Garcia gave his best against Davis, but he came up short.
“When I got the shot to my head in the final round, that’s when I couldn’t see from my eye. I didn’t know where I was when he hit me with that shot,” Hector Garcia said. “My vision is back but my head still hurts. I couldn’t see from my right eye. I was picking my shots and it was going well up until that point.”
Ford feels that Garcia brought out the best in his champion.
“Tank always tells me when he’s ready to get a person out of there, but this fight right here, he was using his IQ, analyzing,” Ford said. “There were two things [Garcia] couldn’t do that well was move backwards and move to his left that good. Tank started throwing from some angles and I was really impressed with him.”
“I feel as though – I have stuff to work on. Everything. I’m a fighter and I’m not retired so I’m always willing to learn. I wasn’t throwing a lot of shots in the beginning because I was trying to beat him mentally,” Davis said.
“I was trying to trick him with my hands and my eyes and things like that because he’s a tough fighter. I had to bait him. His southpaw style bothered me a little bit because I don’t fight a lot of southpaws but it’s okay. it’s a part of the game.”
Ryan Garcia, meanwhile, rose from a second-round knockdown against Luke Campbell to win the WBC’s vacant 135-pound interim 135-pound title in January 2021. But Garcia vacated that crown when he took time off to focus on his mental health.
Garcia returned in April for a unanimous decision over 140-pound rival Emmanuel Tagoe, who entered at 32-1 (15 KOs). Garcia’s last fight was July’s three-knockdown, sixth-round stoppage of left-handed former two-division champion Javier Fortuna, who entered his career-high 140-pound bout at 37-3-1 (26 KOs).
“We don’t ever go into a fight thinking we’re going to smash right through another fighter. Hector gave us a real fight,” Ford said. “So we know that Ryan is watching and that he’s putting something together because he knows this is a big fight, so you’ve gotta give Ryan his credit. Ryan is where he is for a reason, and he’s chosen to fight Tank, and I can’t wait.”
In Saturday’s co-main event, Jaron “Boots” Ennis (30-0, 27 KOs) won every round of Saturday’s 12-round (120-108 three times) unanimous decision over Karen Chukhadzhian (21-2, 11 KOs) of Ukraine, even as the switch-hitting Philadelphian failed to earn his 20th straight knockout while earning the IBF interim welterweight crown.
It appeared that 29-year-old division rival Rashidi (Speedy) Ellis (24-1, 15 KOs), of Lynn, Massachusetts, might be a decent challenge for Ennis prior to being battered and floored twice in the final round of a Saturday’s 12-round majority decision loss to Roiman Villa (26-1, 24 KOs) of Venezuela in an IBF eliminator. Villa won 114-112 (twice) with the third judge scoring it even at 113-113.
In the first televised bout, left-handed two-division champion Demetrius Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs) of Providence, R.I., scored second-round and final round knockdowns during his shutout 10-round unanimous decision over journeyman Demond Nicholson (26-5-1, 22 KOs) of Laurel, Md., in a 168-pound bout.