In December of last year, Gervonta Davis, the former Jr. Lightweight world champion, who had scored knockouts in every one, but one of his professional fights received an unexpected test in the form of Lightweight contender Isaac Cruz. Perhaps what made that unexpected was that Cruz stepped into the fight on short notice when original opponent Rolando Romero had to withdraw from the bout to deal with issues outside of the ring. Nevertheless, the pressure Cruz was able to put on Davis for twelve rounds created something that Davis had not experienced before, uncertainty. Although Davis was ultimately able to adapt and score a twelve round unanimous decision to remain unbeaten, the performance of Cruz provided an impression that perhaps a blueprint of sorts had been made for future opponents on how to fight Davis. With the issues he was dealing with outside of the Boxing ring resolved, what became an anticipated encounter between Davis and Romero was finally able to take place. On May 28th, a record crowd of over 18,000 spectators crammed into the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY to see Davis and Romero do battle.
The thing that stood out to me almost immediately upon the bout starting was the stance of Rolando Romero. While not always an indicator of what may or may not happen in a fight, if one watches the sport of Boxing enough whether you are a fan of any interest or someone who covers the sport like yours truly, little things can stand out. In this case, I noticed that Romero’s stance was particularly wide in that he would need to lunge forward to throw his offense because his legs were far apart. My first thought was that he would be at risk of potentially getting caught with counter punches and because of his stance would likely be off balance when it occurred. I also felt based on the styles of both fighters that if Romero were to become over aggressive, there was also a possibility of him walking into a punch that he would not see coming and due to the aforementioned issue with his stance, would not be able to defend himself.
While this was something I noticed almost immediately and is something that has come with a lifetime of experience in both watching Boxing on every level imaginable as well as writing about and covering the sport most of my life, the question that formed in my mind was a simple one, but was a question in two parts. Would Romero be able to recognize the issue with his stance and if not, would his corner recognize the issue and advise him of it as the fight progressed. I also wondered aloud as to whether or not Davis and his corner would recognize the issue of Romero’s stance and subsequently look for opportunities to try and take advantage of it.
In previewing this fight, I stated that I thought the possibility existed for this encounter to be similar to the one Davis had against Isaac Cruz in the sense that one way Romero could have consistent success would be to apply steady pressure on Davis in a similar way as Cruz was able to. To be more specific, Cruz’ ability to back Davis up and make him feel uncomfortable as the bout progressed.
Although Romero was able to pressure Davis in spots, this was more of an encounter where each fighter looked to counter the other. What was noticeable was that unlike his bout with Cruz where he seemed to have trouble for a lengthy period controlling the tempo of the combat and getting into a rhythm, Davis was able to let his hands go more regularly in this fight and was able to move more freely than had been the case against Cruz.
The question of whether Davis would recognize the flaw in Romero’s stance did not take long to answer as he approved to look for opportunities to land his left hand whenever Romero would lean and lunge forward and began landing it regularly. As the fight progressed, it appeared as though Davis may have injured his left shoulder or hand as he seemed to let out a yell indicating he was in pain. While I did not happen to see if Davis may have either been hit by a punch from Romero or an instance where he may have hurt himself in the process of throwing a punch, I do recall hearing a short pop when this occurred in I believe the fourth round, but I cannot pinpoint exactly where this occurred.
For his part, after this appeared to take place Davis did not seem to favor either his hand or shoulder in such a way as to indicate that he was hurt and because of that I began to wonder if the yell was a veteran tactic to try and bait Romero into making a mistake. It does need to be pointed out that, despite the success Davis was able to have in landing the left hand, particularly as a counter punch, Romero did take the punches well and did not seem to be hurt by what Davis was able to land. Romero was also able to land some good hooks of his own to the head pf Davis throughout. I did not feel however, that he was in a position where he was able to dictate how the fight was being fought and I felt that at minimum Davis was getting the upper hand by being the more active of the two fighters and seeming to land the more effective punches of the two.
Just as it appeared as though this bout would settle into a tactical Boxing match, despite the styles of the two fighters, Davis would bring the fight to a sudden conclusion in round six. In a sequence where Davis was backing up slightly towards the ropes, he caught a lunging Romero as he leaned forward with a left hook to the head that sent Romero down on the canvas. Although Romero showed his mettle trying to get to his feet, he was on very unsteady legs and the bout was stopped
Although Davis had caught Romero with similar punches throughout the fight, the difference here and what made this one punch knockout spectacular boils down to both how Davis was able to perfectly time his shot and the follow through in terms of the execution of the punch. While this proved to be Davis’ twenty-third knockout in twenty-five professional fights and keeping in mind his reputation as a “Knockout Artist” because of that record, there is something to be said about the way this knockout occurred from the standpoint that Davis bided his time, tactically set his opponents up and once the opportunity presented itself, executed brilliantly in such a way that even though it was a devastating one punch knockout, he did not rely solely on his punching power to get it done though the power was certainly there for Davis when needed.
The question now is what is next for Gervonta Davis, well, he did maintain his status as holding the number one ranking in the WBA’s Lightweight ratings per his holding an interim/regular championship designation. While as most longtime readers know, this observer has pointed out the flaw of such designations regularly though they are well intended as a means of trying to ensure that fighters who earn title shots get their opportunity one way or another, in this case, Davis held that designation in both the 135lb. Lightweight division as well as the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division. The reason why this could prove to be a benefit is, the upcoming Undisputed Lightweight world championship fight between undefeated champion George Kambosos and undefeated WBC number one contender Devin Haney has the potential to be a two-fight series at minimum should Haney defeat Kambosos per the terms of the contract for that fight.
What that could mean for Davis is a real possibility of being frozen out of the equation in what could develop into a trilogy between Kambosos and Haney should two fights indeed take place between the two and, each fighter emerges with one victory, which would obviously lay the groundwork for a third bout. So, this creates a scenario where Gervonta Davis has two options. Option one could be to continue fighting top contenders in the Lightweight division and continue to try to drum up support for him to fight whomever emerges out of the Kambosos-Haney situation with the Undisputed Lightweight crown, or he could try to secure a fight in the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division where he could try to secure a fight with current undisputed world champion Josh Taylor. The decision of who Davis fights next will likely be influenced by whomever his promoter might be going forward as he is likely to become a promotional free agent after fighting many of his bouts over the last several years under Floyd Mayweather’s Mayweather Promotions promotional banner, which is aligned with the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) group of promoters.
If Davis does not resign with Mayweather, but chooses to remain under the PBC umbrella with a different promoter, the potential of a fight against Taylor or other fighters in either the Lightweight or Jr. Welterweight divisions that are not under the PBC umbrella might be difficult to make. One fight that I personally would like to see would be a fight between Davis and undefeated top contender Ryan Garcia, who is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. While Garcia will be facing Javier Fortuna in his next bout in July, another issue that could prevent that fight from happening assuming Garcia defeats Fortuna is that Davis’ bouts in recent years have been broadcast by Showtime here in the United States, whereas Golden Boy and Garcia have a broadcast agreement with digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN.
Although DAZN somewhat reluctantly recently ventured into the pay-per-view model after marketing itself as a viable pay-per-view alternative, and keeping in mind that the model remains largely in decline for a variety of reasons, the possibility exists of maybe a joint pay-per-view between the two networks, despite the fact that they have failed to work together in the past, if Davis does choose to remain with the PBC and Showtime as the network that broadcast his bouts both through their main cable network as well as through pay-per-view. One potential possibility that might be unlikely is a rematch with Rolando Romero, who did say at the post-fight press conference that he does want a rematch and insisted that he was caught by “A Good Shot,” which resulted in a loss for him.
Even though Romero was ahead on one of three official judges' scorecards at the time of the stoppage, it is hard to see interest in a rematch at least in terms of immediately simply because this fight ended with one punch and, despite the scorecard of one official judge, the tempo of the fight was largely controlled by Davis prior to the stoppage. It may be more likely both due to Davis’ seemingly upcoming promotional free agency as well as the Kambosos-Haney bout, which will take place on June 5th in Melbourne, Australia, (June 4th in the United States) that he will wait for a time before deciding his next move.
Nevertheless, Gervonta Davis succeeded not only in remaining undefeated with his victory over Rolando Romero, but also in reminding the public that he does have the ability to end a fight with one punch. If there were thoughts that perhaps Isaac Cruz potentially exposed a blueprint on how to fight him, it might be wise to rethink that at least for now.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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