The Baltimore-native Davis delighted the 19,731 fans in attendance as he methodically broke down the previously unbeaten Garcia, before hurting him badly with his vaunted left hand late in the eighth round.
Visibly shaken on his way back to the corner, Garcia stayed on his stool as the bell for round nine rang. Moments later, his trainer Bob Santos advised referee Albert Earl Brown to stop the fight, with the official stoppage coming 13 seconds into round nine.
“I was a little surprised he didn’t come out,” said Davis. “But I knew he was hurt bad but he’s a fighter and he didn’t want to show it. I knew he was hurt though.”
“When I got the shot to my head in the final round, that’s when I couldn’t see from my eye,” said Garcia, who owns the WBA Super Featherweight World Title. “I didn’t know where I was when he hit me with that shot. My vision is back but my head still hurts. I couldn’t see from my right eye. It was going well up until that point. I was picking my shots.”
The two champions jockeyed for position over the first three rounds before Davis got the fans back on their feet with a series of hard power shots late in round four. Garcia displayed a solid straight left hand that he employed to counter the speed of Davis’ jabs, and was the busier fighter according to CompuBox, throwing 345 punches to Davis’ 239.
However, it was Davis’ effective and efficient attack, which built as the fight went on, that helped him take control of the fight. After landing only four power punches in the first three rounds, Davis connected on 69 in rounds four through eight.
“I wasn’t throwing a lot of shots in the beginning because I was trying to beat him mentally,” said Davis. “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.”
The victory was Davis’ fifth successful defense of his WBA Lightweight Title, and one that the judges saw him in control of throughout, as he led 79-73 on two cards and 78-74 on the third. After the fight, Davis sent a message to his fellow unbeaten rival Ryan Garcia, as the two near a previously announced blockbuster clash this spring.
“God willing I’m ready for the fight with Ryan Garcia,” said Davis. “It’s scheduled for April. I’m here. He’s been training. He’s been talking. And let’s see who’s really about that.”