Gervonta Davis claims another KO victim to secure superfight
Ryan Garcia clash on the horizon after Hector ‘Tanked’
When the dust finally settled, it was a classic Gervonta Davis display. For all of the apparent complexities Hector Luis Garcia brought to the table, did we really expect anything different? Gervonta waited patiently, basking in the undercurrent of expectation that hummed around a packed arena.
Befitting of a man with a monster knockout ratio, the question remained: what would happen whenever Tank landed his vaunted power punches?
In the eighth round, almost out of the blue, we found out the answer. The ending was a little strange. Just moments before Davis rewired Garcia, there was an altercation in the crowd as rapper Meek Mill and the boxing Russell brothers engaged in some verbal warfare that threatened to spill over.
Referee Earl Brown correctly called a time out, allowing both boxers to reset and the security team to carry out their work. The PBC cameras panned right on top of the disturbance just in time to see some goons in green jackets being escorted out, leaving the experts in the ring to fight.
Shortly after the disturbance, Davis found a breakthrough and clearly buzzed Garcia with a left hand high on the head. The Dominican looked like he was about to go down but managed to stay upright and see out the round. Clearly not yet recovered, Hector had a lengthy discussion with his corner that led to him being pulled out of the fight before the start of the ninth round.
Garcia later stated that he didn’t know where he was and had gone temporarily blind in his right eye. It’s that kind of next level power that makes Tank at the very least competitive against anyone in and around the weight class. On this occasion he retained his WBA bauble at 135.
Cutting a more calculating figure, confident that his power would eventually shine through, Davis slowed the pace down and dictated the tempo. In the early rounds Hector Garcia did a good job of standing off, forcing the fight favourite to commit. He stood tall and upright, the right hand coiled, tempting Tank inside. The 31-year-old B-side also did a good job of not buying Tank’s feints, stepping back out of range whenever Davis came forward.
It has since been suggested in some quarters that Davis was once again “bailed out” by his power. That is a strange way of describing the fight as Davis was never in any particular danger of losing the contest and comfortably ahead on all of the judges’ cards at the time of the stoppage. So quite what he was bailing himself out of is unclear.
For all of his awkwardness it never felt like Hector Garcia was winning rounds and he clearly lacked the power to hurt the champion. There is another Garcia floating about who certainly does have the power to upset Davis. Ryan Garcia is maturing into a dangerous fighter, with speed, power and the tactical nous of Joe Goossen in his corner following an acrimonious split from Eddy Reynoso.
As explosive as a shootout that Tank vs. Ryan promises to be, the likes of Devin Haney or Shakur Stevenson could potentially cause more problems for Gervonta with their respective styles.
This is all dependent on the bothersome Baltimore banger staying out of trouble. Showtime interviewer Jim Gray made an interesting comment in the post-fight interview when he referenced a statement Davis made during the week that the only person capable of beating him was himself. “How do you stop that from happening?” quizzed the veteran broadcaster. Isn’t that just the million dollar question.
The undercard was a mixed bag with fight favourites struggling to impress. Going rounds against a tricky, durable opponent who could take a shot was exactly what Jaron Ennis needed. His Ukrainian opponent moved a lot but offered little offence until the final rounds. Even when Karen Chukhadzhian had Ennis backing up against the ropes the co-challenger proceeded to present a shuffle dance but threw nothing, no doubt fearful of what Ennis would unleash in return.
That pattern continued until the later rounds when the Philadelphian started to let his hands go and had success with the left hook and the jab. Neither had any effect on ‘Boots’ and were effectively arm punches.
Ennis had most of his success with body shots and noticeably winded Chukhadzhian who took one of his regular navigations of the ring to recover. Post-fight suggestions that Ennis had been “exposed” as a contender/future champion are wide of the mark.
He would still be strongly competitive against the likes of Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford and likely start as favourite against Vergil Ortiz or Eimantas Stanionis.
His performance, however, was not without flaws. The kind of flaws that the elite would readily exploit. Jaron sometimes engages in wild swings of frustration and throws himself off balance or briefly leaves himself wide open to counter shots. While Chukhadzhian was too slow to take advantage, better fighters will not pass up on the opportunity.
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In the early going of their 147-pound clash Rashidi Ellis boxed with competence and confidence against Roiman Villa. Fast and accurate, ‘Speedy’ Rashidi knows his way around the ring. Ellis and his team had worked out that footwork and movement were the key to dominating a fighter like Villa who prefers people to stand in front and slug it out.
The Colombian-based power puncher swung away trying to make a fight of it but that was food and drink to Ellis who swiftly moved out of range sporting a contented grin as Roiman hit thin air.
That was the pattern until the final four rounds when Ellis slowed down and Villa started landing shots that had previously disappeared into the back row of the Capital One Arena. Dropped twice with the left hook, Ellis was in real trouble in the 12th and final session as he clung on to preserve an assumed points win despite the late round adversity.
Leading up to this bout Ellis had been inactive so the final round meltdown was no surprise. That said, he appeared to have banked enough rounds early on to scrape out the win. The three judges thought otherwise, handing in scores of 114-112 (twice) and 113-113 to secure a majority decision victory for Villa.
Even the Venezuelan’s manager Sampson Lewkowicz looked surprised when the verdict was announced. To his credit ‘Flaco de Oro’ never stopped pitching and gave himself every chance down the home stretch to turn it around.
The PBC can dress up Demetrius Andrade’s status with fancy graphics, calling him a two-division champion, but the southpaw remains a difficult watch. He’s always been risk averse and overly defensive. Leading with the shoulder and pulling opponents in for a regular grapple makes for frustrating viewing. Throw in a limited opponent like Demond Nicholson and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. They’re talking about a Jermall Charlo fight next. Let’s hope that happens.
AJAGBA LEADS THE WAY ON HEAVY NIGHT OF ACTION
Efe Ajagba returns to the ring this weekend when he takes on 18-0 Stephan Shaw over 10 rounds. The Nigerian puncher cut a fearsome figure before he bumped into Cuba’s Frank Sanchez back in October, 2021. Sanchez exposed Ajagba’s limitations that night and Shaw, who has stepped in for Oscar Rivas, might have the skills and pedigree to repeat the trick.
Image credit: Top Rank Boxing
Italy’s Guido Vianello could find himself pitched in with the winner if he can negotiate a way past Jonathan Rice. Vianello has looked largely unimpressive so far as a pro and struggled to a draw against Kingsley Ibeh at the peak of the 2020 MGM Grand ‘Bubble’ fights. Rice is sturdy and well-schooled. Now training full-time, Rice’s record is better than it suggests and he could be good value for the upset.
Talking of good value, Top Rank’s third 10-round attraction on this card is a well-matched crossroads affair of sorts. Adam Lopez and Abraham Nova could both do with a decent win, but, barring the draw, only one can prevail. Lopez might just have enough guile and experience to pull it off.