Monday, June 17, 2024

Punching Power Saves The Day For Davis

On June 15th the Boxing world focused it's attention on the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV where undefeated WBA Lightweight world champion Gervonta Davis made his first defense of the title since being named world champion following former undisputed world champion Devin Haney relinquishing his crown to move up in weight, against undefeated WBA number two rated Lightweight contender Frank Martin. While this observer would like to paint a picture of this fight being simply about an unbeaten world champion meeting an unbeaten challenger, as there always seems to be in Boxing, there ended up being more to the story. 

In this case, in the days leading up to the fight, there was a situation that emerged that frankly took attention away from the fight. Yours truly is referring to a situation that led to the dismissal of Leonard Ellerbe, longtime CEO of Floyd Mayweather’s Mayweather Promotions, who promote both Davis and Martin under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner as in the days leading up to the twelve round world championship bout at a pre-fight press conference Ellerbe seemingly did everything to discredit Martin as a challenger to Davis rather than promoting the fight, which was the main event of the latest PBC on Prime Video Pay-Per-View offering. Shortly after that press conference, news broke that Ellerbe had been dismissed and former CEO of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions Richard Schaefer now being designated as the man who will take over the duties for Mayweather Promotions. Although this was the latest in a series of struggles of the Premier Boxing Champions group of promoters, the blunder while taking attention away from the fight and card as a whole for a time, did not overshadow this event. With the situation regarding Ellerbe and Mayweather seemingly in the rearview for the time being, it was time for Davis and Martin to meet inside the ring. 

What stood out immediately was the challenger’s ability to use angles to offset the pressure of Davis. This in addition to Martin's ability to land precise counter punches and beat Davis to the punch is what carried the fight for most of the first five rounds. Although it seemed clear that Frank Martin was gradually compiling a lead on the official scorecards and it was approaching a point where it would be difficult for the champion to dig himself out of a hole if he needed to win a decision to retain his title, Davis never ceased applying constant pressure and gradually walking Martin back both against the ropes and in corners of the ring. While it is indisputable that Gervonta Davis is the type of fighter that has the type of punching power that can and often does end fights suddenly if he connects flush, I wondered as I watched the fight whether that asset, as valuable as it is for those who are blessed to have it, would end up working against Davis against a fighter that clearly had a fight plan and was tactically Boxing him with seemingly significant success.

This was because as the fight progressed, not only was Davis’ face gradually swelling from the effects of Martin's jab, short combinations, and catching the champion with counter punches that briefly stopped him in his tracks, but Davis was seemingly putting everything he had behind every punch he threw, was made to miss with a good portion of those punches, and was visibly becoming frustrated. Despite this, Davis maintained his approach and in the eighth round would finally catch up with the elusive boxer Martin.

As he had been doing for virtually the entire fight, Davis stalked and gradually cornered Martin. Despite Martin appearing comfortable throughout the bout in being willing to stand in corners or on the ropes while Davis came forward, rather than trying to move and evade the champion, it was such willingness that would prove to be a costly mistake. Davis connected with a brutal right uppercut followed by a left hook to the jaw that sent Martin down and out on the canvas. The champion had retained his title in devastating fashion.

At the end of the day, Gervonta Davis’ power saved the day and he was able to get the job done. An obvious question that should be asked coming out of this fight is should there be concerns moving forward? In that, Davis had the punching power to bail him out of what was looking to potentially be a fight that he was losing on the scorecards. While no one can take anything away from Davis as he was blessed with punching power and did what he had to do, the danger for fighters who have such God given talents such as punching power is they tend to rely strictly on power to get them through and though it might work for a period of time, it also can serve as somewhat of a blueprint for future opponents that could study what Frank Martin was able to do in this fight for example and try to implement elements of that strategy into their own approach. A fighter such as recently crowned IBF/IBO Lightweight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko, who is a possible target for Davis later this year, is a master boxer, who has immaculate footwork and ability to use angles, in addition to having quick hands and punching power of his own. 

If a fight between Lomachenko and Davis is indeed next for both, the concern for Davis should be to try and find a way to implement an approach that will have an emphasis on winning rounds as opposed to relying strictly on his punching power to get the job done. Vasyl Lomachenko is among the most tactical fighters in the entire sport and there is little doubt that he will try to implement an approach with an emphasis on angles as well as avoiding the power Davis has. Although laying out such a strategy is easier than attempting to execute one in the midst of battle, Davis should prepare for the possibility that his power may not be all he needs to win moving forward, regardless of whether Vasyl Lomachenko will be the next opponent standing across the ring from him. 

“And That's The Boxing Truth.”

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