The undefeated three-division champion delivers a masterful performance in front of a sellout crowd at T-Mobile to establish himself as the new face of the sport.
They fought for the championship of each other. They had talked and circled one another for years. They knew the only place it would be settled was in the ring. All the while, Gervonta “Tank” Davis had been waiting for his time to come.
It exploded Saturday night, when Davis stopped Ryan Garcia at 1:44 of the seventh round with a vicious body shot in a Premier Boxing Champions main event on SHOWTIME pay-per-view before a sellout crowd of 20,842 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Davis (29-0, 27 KOs) became the face of boxing in his master execution of boxing and power punching, knocking Garcia down for the second and third times of his career.
“Everything about this was exciting,” Davis said. “I was excited to be a part of this event. I remember coming up in the Golden Gloves and seeing Floyd (Mayweather) fight at the MGM. It was crazy. I actually just saw Rihanna perform at the Super Bowl, and I thought that’s going to be me one day. And we’re here.
“The reality definitely matches the dream. But the job is never done until I retire so I’m going to keep my head down, stay humble and continue to work. Me predicting the 7th round KO was me just trying to get in his head. I really don’t know until I actually get in there with my opponent, but once I got in there with him, I felt like skill-wise, it all matched.”
At the time of the stoppage, Davis was up on the judge’s scorecards, with Steve Weisfeld (59-55), Dave Moretti (59-56) and Tim Cheatham (58-56) having Davis up by a varying disparity.
Garcia (23-1, 19 KOs) landed 43% of his power shots (43/57). In most cases, that is enough to win any fight, but Davis slammed home 48% (30/63) of his power punches, and through the first three rounds, he landed only four of 16 punches. Although his punch output was not overwhelming, Davis’ defensive skills and two-fisted power was more than Garcia could handle.
Throughout his career, Garcia connected at a 31% rate against opponents. Against Davis, he landed only 24% of his overall shots (39/163) to Davis’ 34% (35/103)—which includes 31 of 87 connects after the third round.
Garcia began as the stalker, utilizing his height and reach advantage to push Davis back Neither fighter did much of anything, but Garcia was more active.
In the opening seconds of the second, Garcia landed a left to Davis’ body against the ropes. Davis began holding Garcia, and midway through the round, referee Thomas Taylor warned Davis about the holding. Then, with :59 left in the second, Garcia was dropped by a counter left uppercut. It was only the second time Garcia was knocked down in his career. He left himself open by over committing with a right.
“The first knockdown was just him not knowing his placement and I knew that I was the smaller guy,” Davis said. “My coach was telling me in camp that he’s going to come up with his head up, so just shoot over the top.”
Through the first two rounds, Davis had only landed four punches, but the one punch that counted above the others was the power shot that put Garcia on the canvas.
In the third, Davis kept moving, preventing Garcia from setting up. After touching the canvas, Garcia seemed to get a little gun shy. He would throw a punch, then back up and duck for cover.
“I’m good,” Garcia said. “‘Tank’ is a great fighter. I take my hat off to him. I know we talked a lot of trash leading into the fight, but he knows what it is. It’s all love at the end of the day. I was honored to be in the ring with a great fighter and I respect him a lot. You know how the business goes. But I want to say to Tank, you’re a good man.
“I think I should have pressured him a little harder near the ropes. I was giving him a little bit too much respect and I think that was my downfall. I think I gave him a little too much respect in the ring.”
Davis patiently tapped away at Garcia, who also exhibited great patience in packing away with the jab. With 1:56 left in the fifth, Davis popped Garcia with a counter left.
With 2:15 left in the sixth, Garcia landed a right to Davis’ face. Midway through the sixth, Davis landed a left to Garcia’s body. In the last 30 seconds of the round, Garcia hit Davis with a right to the body, and plowed Davis with a right to the head.
The sixth had been Garcia’s best round since the first. His momentum would be short-lived.
In the first 25 seconds of the seventh, Garcia used a right to cleave Davis’ high guard to the face. And then, as Garcia overcommitted once again, Davis dipped down and somehow found the leverage to crack a hard left that caught Garcia in the ribs, making his skin rise in tiny waves.
“He just caught me with a good shot,” Garcia said. “I don’t want to make any excuses in here. He caught me with a good shot and I just couldn’t recover and that’s it. He caught me with a good body shot, snuck under me and caught me good.
“I couldn’t breathe. I was going to get back up, but I just couldn’t get up.”
In a delayed action, Garcia took a knee and Thomas counted him out ending it at 1:44 of the seventh.
“I didn’t think that body shot would end it, but I saw his facial expression and that’s what made me take it to him,” Davis said. “It was a good shot, for sure. I thought he was going to get up but I like to play mind games, so when he was looking at me, I was looking at him trying to tell him, ‘Get up!’. And he just shook his head, no.
“I’m definitely the face of boxing. Absolutely!”
He is now.
David Morrell Jr. continues making his point at 168
Yamaguchi Falcao may have been a late replacement for David Morrell Jr., but the Cuban super middleweight southpaw did not care. Morrell wants to prove he’s the best 168-pounder in the world and has been destroying everyone in his way of making that point.
The 25-year-old WBA Super Middleweight World Champion improved to 9-0, with eight knockouts, making easy, quick work out of Falcao (24-2-1, 10 KOs) and stopping him at 2:22 of the first round.
“I’m so excited,” Morrell said. “This was a big moment and a big night for me, so a knockout in the first round is incredible. But this is boxing. First round, second round, I’m not worried when the knockout comes but I got it in the first round.
“I think this is the best moment of my career tonight. It was a big event and a big name. I want to fight the best in the division. Much respect to Yamaguchi. I’m glad he’s okay. He’s a good guy and a good boxer.”
Morrell ended Falcao’s eight-fight winning streak with a right hook, set up by a left-right combination that wobbled Falcao and had him dazed against the ropes.
With Falcao, a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, in trouble, Morrell ended it, slamming him to the canvas with a right hook. Referee Celestino Ruiz did not bother to count, immediately waving it over.
Morrell then immediately called out undefeated David Benavidez, who was seated at ringside.
“David Benavidez is next,” Morrell said. “Where is he? I want to fight Benavidez, man. He’s next, 100 percent. I don’t want any other guys at 168 pounds. Just Benavidez. I respect Benavidez and his team, but inside the ring, I don’t respect nothing.”
Bektemir Melikuziev gets his revenge against Gabriel Rosado
It took a few years, but Bektemir Melikuziev got his revenge over Gabriel Rosado for an upset knockout loss in July 2021. Melikuziev (12-1, 9 KOs) dominated almost every second of every round in a 10-round unanimous decision win.
“This was the fight that I wanted,” Melikuziev said. “This is the fight that I felt like I made a mistake in the first one, and I had this opportunity for revenge on such a big card. It’s a pleasure for me.
“In the first fight against Rosado, I underestimated my opponent. This time, we put the work in during camp. We went through everything. This time, the goal was to showcase my skills, box and punish him as much as possible too.”
Rosado (26-17-1, 15 KOs, 1 NC) has not won since he beat Melikuziev, losing for the fourth-straight time.
“I tried, but I was a step behind,” Rosado said. “Father Time, eighteen years as a pro, but I was game. I walked to him, I boxed him, I tried everything but I was a step too slow. I was a split-second behind. He's fresh, he's young and I'm happy for him. I knocked him out bad in the first fight and he made adjustments.
“I don't make any excuses. I was ready. Now it's time to wrap it up and give my knowledge to younger fighters with management and training. I want to share my experience with them, and maybe do some more commentating.”
Elijah Garcia overcomes slow start to beat Kevin Salgado
Elijah Garcia keeps belying his age. The middleweight will turn 20 in four days, and he’s already making a name for himself as his teenage years close. For the second-straight time, Garcia (no relation to Ryan Garcia) pulled off a nice victory, with a unanimous 10-round decision over rugged veteran Kevin Salgado.
It marked the first time the southpaw Garcia (15-0, 12 KOs) went 10 rounds. In his last fight, he stopped previously undefeated contender Amilcar Vidal in four back in March.
This time, Garcia started slow as Salgado (15-2-1, 10 KOs) tried rough house tactics early on.
“I was standing a little too still trying to fight on the inside,” Garcia said. “Salgado is a tough opponent. He was real tough, real strong and I just had to move and box a little bit. Other than that, it was a good, hard 10 rounds. I give my opponent 100 percent props.
“I stayed in shape one hundred percent after my last fight. Back-to-back camps, and not only that, but I made boxing a lifestyle. I’m always in the gym, eating good and doing the best I can to stay healthy.”
With 1:24 to go in the seventh round, referee Robert Hoyle deducted a point from Salgado for low blows, which he had been frequently warned about.
“I just have to continue getting better in the gym every single day,” Garcia said. “That’s what it’s about. I learned a lot today. It was my first time going past six rounds and I got the full 10. The fights like this will get me closer to a world title.
“It feels great to get this win on a big stage. I feel like I'm getting better with each fight. I know I have a long way to go, but I like where I'm at. I'm hoping to get right back in the ring soon.”
Garcia did well with right-left combinations, though left himself open sometimes to counters, like when Salgado cracked him late in the ninth with a right. Overall, Garcia’s superior craftsmanship and skill won out.
Judges Max De Luca and David Sutherland both saw it 97-92 for Garcia, while judge Patricia Morse Jarman saw it closer, 95-94.
Also on the undercard, super welterweight Vito Mielnicki, Jr. (15-1, 10 KOs) stopped Jose Charles (20-4-1, 12 KOs) at :33 of the fourth round of a scheduled 10-rounder, after Mielnicki dropped Charles twice in the third. Middleweight Fiodor Czerkaszyn (22-0, 14 KOs) stopped Elias Espadas (22-6, 15 KOs) at 2:07 of the ninth of a scheduled 10-rounder.
For a closer look at Davis vs Garcia, check out our fight night page.