Mike CoppingerESPN5 minutes of reading
LAS VEGAS — Ryan Garcia pounced, then dropped to a knee, the late effect of a liver shot that perfectly placed Kervonta “Tank” Davis’ left hand that dropped his opponent for the second time in their superfight on Saturday.
This time, Garcia didn’t beat the count.
Referee Thomas Taylor scored 10 at 1 minute, 44 seconds into the 7th round, with Garcia still on one knee struggling to breathe. Davis’ victory came in front of 20,842 at a sold-out T-Mobile Arena, a counterintuitive but decisive finish to one of boxing’s most anticipated bouts in years.
With that single left hand, Davis (29-0, 27 KOs) cemented himself as one of boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters, not just one of the sport’s biggest stars in his 136-pound catchweight bout a few months ago. Trash talk and exaggeration.
“I thought he was going to get up, but I like to play mind games, so when he looked at me, I was looking at him to try to tell him, “Get up,'” and then he was. He shook his head ‘no’.”
Garcia (23-1, 19 KOs) also landed in Round 2, the result of a well-timed counter left hand that landed on his face. As soon as his body hit the canvas, Garcia got up as if to show that the shot didn’t hurt him. He showed no ill effects from the knockdown throughout the match.
But body shots like the one Davis landed in the seventh are a different animal, even if they don’t produce the brutality fans crave.
“I couldn’t breathe,” Garcia said. “I was going to get back up, but I couldn’t get up. … He caught me with a good shot. I don’t want to make any excuses here. … I couldn’t. Recover. … He caught me with a good body shot, right below me. He snuck up on me and got a good hold of me.”
The fight was mostly tactical with Davis, the better all-around boxer, giving up 4.5 inches of leverage as he tried to time Garcia. When Davis, 28, looks to open up Garcia, he gets him fired up.
Punches were unleashed with blinding speed and pounding power in a match that featured two of the sport’s most damaging finishers with some of the quickest hands. Despite their stardom, Davis is the only former champion who won at 130 pounds in 2017 with a seventh-round TKO of Jose Petraza.
Davis currently campaigns at 135 pounds — and is ranked No. 3 by ESPN at lightweight — and has fought once in June 2021, an 11th-round TKO of Mario Barrios at 140. Garcia previously competed at 135 pounds, but his two previous fights were in the 140-pound range.
This led to a contractual demand from Davis’ side that both fighters weigh in a second time on the morning of the fight, where neither boxer could exceed 146 pounds for the bout held at a 136-pound catchweight.
In the end, the game of the scales didn’t affect the outcome. Davis, as he pointed out before the fight, owns a decisive edge in ring IQ.
“The first knockdown was he didn’t know his placement and I knew I was the little guy and my coach. [Calvin Ford] “He was telling me in camp that he was going to come with his head up so he was going to shoot up,” Davis said, boxing patiently instead of attacking recklessly. , which is unmatched.”
Garcia, between her model looks and 9.8 million Instagram followers, is often underestimated, but she proved her worth once again. In his career-best win over Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell, Garcia escaped a knockdown, also in round 2, but finished him with a left hand to the body in round 7.
Now, Garcia will return to junior welterweight, where he will chase his first world championship.
“I plan to fight the best fighters at 140 [pounds],” said Garcia, who endured a 15-month layoff following his win over Campbell as he dealt with his mental health and recovered from wrist surgery.
“I felt a little weak going into the ring,” Garcia said. “I didn’t feel my legs were under me. … But I can’t make excuses. I signed the contract and that’s it.”
The contract contained a rematch clause, but only Davis had the ability to exercise his right to an immediate rematch if he lost.
“This is what boxing needs,” Garcia said, referring to a rare match between two stars in their primes. “That’s why I did what I had to do to make the fight happen.”
Those efforts included a short cut on the revenue side — sources told ESPN that both fighters were guaranteed to earn eight figures, which were expected to generate gate and pay-per-views from an event — and even a concession weight and lead promoter for the bout.
Davis is affiliated with the BBC and fights exclusively on Showtime, which was the flagship network for PPV. Garcia is with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and competes on DAZN.
While Garcia, who fights out of LA, goes back to the drawing board, Davis should reach a new stratum on the list of boxing’s greatest fighters and the hierarchy of stars throughout the sport.
From the NFL to the NBA to music and movies, the biggest names were all ringside to soak up Saturday night.
But Davis must answer his legal problems. He is scheduled to be sentenced in his native Baltimore on May 5 after pleading guilty to four charges in connection with a November 2020 hit-and-run incident that injured four people, including a pregnant woman. The judge presiding over the case already rejected a plea deal that would have spared Davis prison time in lieu of house arrest.
On May 26, Davis received his next court date in Broward County, Florida, following the December incident in which Davis was charged with battery. The woman, the mother of Davis’ daughter, filed an affidavit in January asking for the charges to be dismissed after he pleaded not guilty. The incident occurred 11 days before Davis scored a ninth-round TKO over Hector Luis Garcia.