Davis Stops Garcia in Battle of Unbeaten Champions

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Davis continues to stake his claim as the face of boxing, stopping the game Garcia to successfully defend his WBA World Lightweight Title Saturday night on Pay-Per-View.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — It looked like Hector Luis Garcia was able to do something not many other fighters were able to do—take the power shots of Gervonta “Tank” Davis.

That lasted for seven rounds.

In the eighth, it changed, when a Davis’ right uppercut wobbled Garcia, and at :13 of the ninth round, referee Albert Earl Brown ended it, giving Davis a ninth-round knockout in defense of the WBA World Lightweight title on Saturday night.

A raucous sellout crowd of 19,731 at Capitol One Arena cheered wildly during the PBC headliner  on SHOWTIME pay-per-view. The battle of contrasting southpaws has its ebbs and flows with Davis ultimately pulling away. With the victory, Davis (28-0, 26 KOs) now looks toward a megafight ahead against Ryan Garcia in the spring. 

“A little surprised (he didn’t come out),” Davis said regarding Garcia’s corner decision to stop it after eight rounds. “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. 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.”

The first few rounds began slowly. Neither took any initiative, though Garcia did land some jabs in the second and was more active. Both fighters stayed at a comfortable distance of each other.

“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.”

Through three rounds, Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs) fought smartly and even connected on a few shots, set up by a solid jab. There were a few occasions when Davis turned, and it forced Garcia to throw punches at the back of his head.

Davis’ oft-overlooked boxing skill were on display as he felt out his opponent, probing for weaknesses. Garcia was determined. With 1:48 left in the fourth, he landed a counter right to the body, and he was willing to bend down and work in the pocket. 

In the final 30 seconds of the fourth, Davis began opening up. He nailed Garcia with a straight left, which got the crowd going, then followed with a right hook.

In the first minute of the fifth, Garcia appeared a little more prudent. He used distance and waited on Davis to come to him. In the last minute of the round, Garcia bounced a one-two combination off of Davis’ head. Tank, however, closed the fifth with a three-punch combination.

Midway through the sixth, Garcia was getting brave again. He closed the distance and for a brief time, Davis went to an orthodox stance than immediately switched back to his more natural southpaw look.

Davis slowly took over the action in the middle rounds as he began letting his hands go. With 1:07 left in the seventh, Garcia went to the body with a left, which was answered by a leaping right hook by Davis in the last minute of the round. 

Davis was now throwing and landing more. Garcia met fire with fire during the eighth which was halted by some ringside commotion that caused the bout to be momentarily stopped by Brown. When the fight resumed, Garcia was lucky to get out of it.

Davis nailed Garcia with his vaunted right uppercut with :18 left in the eighth and then a punishing overhand left which caused Garcia to wobble. Garcia, visibly in trouble, survived the round—but he didn’t survive the fight.

“When I got the shot to my head in the final round, that’s when I couldn’t see from my eye,” Garcia said. “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.”

Garcia returned to the corner telling trainer Joe Santos that he could not see. The fight was waved over from there.

“God willing I’m ready for the fight (with Ryan Garcia),” Davis said. “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.

“On my end I’m ready. I’ll be in the gym Monday. Well, not Monday. I’ll probably take a week off but I’ll be back for sure soon.

“I have to bring my people in close and listen to my close ones, listen to Al Haymon and just stay focused. There’s a lot of bumps in the road but if we stay focused together – that’s how I’ll (maintain) longevity in the sport.”

Jaron Ennis goes 12 rounds for the first time in decisioning Karen Chukhadzhian

Budding welterweight star Jaron “Boots” Ennis (30-0, 27 KOs) dominated every round in beating Ukrainian Karen Chukhadzhian (21-2, 11 KOs), capturing the interim IBF 147-pound belt. Ennis won by a 120-108 shutout on all three scorecards in going 12 rounds for the first time in his career.

“We come here to dominate,” Ennis said. “I feel like I could have thrown more punches. I should stop that guy and that's on me. I wanted him to engage but we did what we could.

“I learned to just take my time and to not rush anything. I’m glad I went 12 rounds. It felt great. I felt I was in the best shape. I just needed to throw a little more punches. I should have got him out of there.”

Chukhadzhian was not exactly as easy as expected. He worked angles well, never stayed set for too long, and the times Ennis was able to hit him, Chukhadzhian was able to take it.

Near the end of the third round, Ennis landed a nice right hook on the elusive Ukrainian. In the fourth, Chukhadzhian landed a couple of left hooks, and Ennis got through with a right uppercut. With just over two minutes left in the fifth, Ennis was able to nail Chukhadzhian with a right to the body against the ropes.

For the first time in his career, Ennis entered the seventh round. He was in control, yet he was taking more shots than he usually does, and was not able to completely execute his gameplan.

The fourth, fifth and sixth rounds were close, though Chukhadzhian was not active enough to do anything to win them.

Chukhadzhian was more interested in dodging Ennis than finding a way to attack him. With less than a minute left in the ninth, Chukhadzhian did land some counters as Ennis struggled to cut the ring off. 

But the Philadelphia native was determined to finish strong. In the last minute of the 10th, Ennis may have hurt Chukhadzhian with a right at the waistline, which seemed to slow Chukhadzhian. He controlled the action over the last two rounds, winning a wide decision. 

“He ran a lot,” Ennis said. “Hats off to him since a lot of guys didn’t want to fight me. So, shout out to him for coming here and taking this fight.

“Everyone knows that I want Errol Spence and the winner of Virgil Ortiz and (Eimantas) Stanionis. You know – all the top guys. Let’s get it, you know?

“I’ll wait until the time is right and (Spence) is ready.”

Roiman Villa pulls off shocker with majority decision over Rashidi Ellis

Rashidi Ellis won the first five rounds and seemed to be cruising to a 12-round victory over Roiman Villa.

But the 29-year-old Venezuelan kept coming on, and coming on, and in the last round, Villa knocked down Ellis twice to pull off a majority decision. The IBF world welterweight title eliminator was a signature victory for Villa (26-1, 24 KOs) and Ellis (24-1, 15 KOs) lost for the first time.

Judges David Braslow and Paul Wallace’s 114-112 scorecards overruled judge Tammye Jenkins’ 113-113 score.

“First of all, thank God for this victory,” Villa said. “Second of all, he was a tough fighter. He moved a lot. He does hit hard. The first couple rounds I was a little tight but then I got loose.

“I was on top of him from the first round. I know that fighters such as him who are quick sooner or later will get a little tired and that’s what I took advantage of.”

Ellis started well. He kept an active jab, cleaving Villa’s high guard on occasion. He connected on eight of his first 12 jabs. In the second, Villa found his range, landing an uppercut, and sporadically crowding Ellis. Able to get the fight back to the center of the ring, “Speedy” was able to be speedy, working the jab again.

By the fourth, Ellis was proving to be too quick, and too accurate for Villa, who could not pin him down. He showed some pop by catching Villa in the last minute of the fourth by rocking Villa with a counter right.

Through six, it was a virtuoso performance by Ellis. Halfway through the fight, it’s the best he’s looked as a pro. Villa was able to cut off the ring a few times, but the opportunities would quickly go.

In the seventh, however, Ellis’ face was getting marked up. With 1:03 left in the stanza, an emboldened Villa tried to implore Ellis to come on. Ellis remained patient and kept stabbing Villa with the jab. It was the first round Villa won.

By the ninth, Villa had a welt building under his left eye, though he landed some power shots, including uppercuts on the inside, set up by his jab. In the opening of the 10th, Villa was backing up Ellis and beginning to control the sway of the fight.

Entering the 12th, Villa knew he had to knock out Ellis to win. With 1:54 left in the last round, Villa finally caught Ellis with a left hook that sent him down for the second time in his career. With :03 left in the fight, Villa’s pressure forced Ellis down a second time, tangled in the ropes.

“My corner told me to knock him down (in the 12th round),” Villa said. “I couldn’t do it on the first try but I kept going. I thought he just fell on the last knockdown so I wasn’t sure (if it was a knockdown). But if they want the rematch, we’ll give them the rematch.

“I like the Mexican fighters with balls and I like the way he fights so I would definitely give him the rematch. I told him after the fight to smile and he had nothing to say. I didn’t really feel like I needed the knockout in that last round, I just wanted to dominate.

“Ellis is a good fighter, but this was mostly about what I was able to do. All credit to God for allowing me to come out with my arm raised up high. I’m not thinking about the future right now, just soaking in the moment.”

“I want the rematch right away. I’m fine (physically),” Ellis said. “I thought I was dictating the fight. I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. I totally disagree with the decision. I was winning most of the rounds. Yeah, he had the knockdown but other than that I was winning most of the rounds.”

Demetrius Andrade debuts strong at 168, plowing over Demond Nicholson

Demetrius Andrade wanted to make a point in his 168-pound debut against Demond Nicholson.

It’s safe to say “Boo Boo” did.

Coming off a 13-month layoff due to surgery on his right shoulder, Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs) looked solid in beating Nicholson (26-5-1, 22 KOs) by 10-round unanimous decision.

“I felt good, I can definitely tell the weight difference, but the speed and combinations and the IQ was the plan today and that’s what we did,” Andrade said. “The weight (was different).”

As for fighting either of the Charlo brothers or the David Benavidez-Caleb Plant winner next, Andrade said, “The only way I can say I’m the best is by fighting the best. Everyone knows that Demond Nicholson is a dog. That’s why we took this fight. He took this fight because he knew I was coming up and he definitely has the animal in him. He showed it today and we’re just boxing – IQ.

“I threw some nice combinations and some nice hard shots, but he came in shape. People get up to fight me. We're going to look to see who's available at 168 pounds. I'm just going to get stronger, sharper and faster too.”

At the opening bell, Andrade, the 34-year-old southpaw who’s naturally right-handed, came out fast, throwing wild shots at Nicholson, who retreated back to the ropes and grabbed Andrade.

With 1:10 left in the second, Andrade dropped Nicholson for the 12th time in his career with what looked like a straight left. Nicholson tried pleading his case to referee Malik Waleed to no avail.

With 2:11 left in the fifth, it looked like Andrade was knocked down, when a Nicholson right appeared to land on the body. Waleed, however, called it a slip. Andrade found his rhythm and quickly regained control of the fight. Nicholson began pecking Andrade in the sixth with a consistent jab, and he backed it by talking and harassing Andrade. Still, Andrade won the round, picking apart Nicholson.

With :40 left in the 10th, Andrade knocked down Nicholson a second time with a left to the jaw, followed by a right hook—putting the exclamation point on Andrade’s super middleweight debut.

“That was definitely clean,” Andrade said. “Nice left. Definitely a knockdown. That left hand. Boom. It was great to be here. I want to thank SHOWTIME for the opportunity and PBC and everyone that came out today. It’s me again baby!

"I thought I would be able to get him out of there in the deep waters, but he's a tough guy. I think we both cut each other early in the fight, but at the end of the day we do what we have to do.”

Other undercard results:

Super welterweight Vito Mielnicki, Jr. (14-1, 9 KOs) looked impressive in stopping Omar Rosales (9-2-1, 5 KOs) at :26 of round four of a scheduled 10-rounder.

Super lightweight Brandun Lee (27-0, 23 KOs) methodically tore down Diego Luque (21-11-2, 10 KOs) with a patient jab, mixed with an occasional body shot and eventually won in the fourth round of the scheduled eight-rounder with Luque’s corner threw in the towel at 2:55.

In a scheduled six-round super welterweight fight, Travon Marshall (7-0, 6 KOs) made quick, easy work of Shawn West (7-3-1, 4 KOs), stopping West at :48 of the first round. Marshall pinned West against the ropes early and referee David Braslow saw enough to end it, despite West’s protests.

For a closer look at Davis vs Garcia, check out our fight night page. 

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