A critical look at the past week in boxing
Gervonta Davis – “Tank” needed a win after a difficult training camp. And he delivered a beauty, forcing previously unbeaten Hector Luis Garcia to quit on his stool after eight rounds of a scheduled 12-round 135-pound fight Saturday in Washington, D.C. The hard-punching lightweight contender landed more and more damaging punches as the fight progressed until his capable opponent could take no more, Davis’ 18th knockout in his last 19 fights. And now he appears set for the biggest fight in his career, a showdown with fellow social media star Ryan Garcia this spring. Things couldn’t be better inside the ring. Outside it? Well, Davis (28-0, 26 KOs) was arrested and briefly jailed on allegations he struck the mother of his daughter on Dec. 27, accusations the woman later recanted. Still, he knows he has to watch himself. “I have to bring my people in close and listen to my close ones, listen to [manager] Al Haymon and just stay focused,” he said. If he can, the 28-year-old from Baltimore could end up as the face of the sport.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Roiman Villa – Slick Rashidi Ellis appeared to be on his way to a one-sided victory over his game, but limited opponent halfway through their welterweight bout on the Davis-Garcia card. Then Villa (26-1, 24 KOs) demonstrated that anything is possible if you persevere. The undeterrable slugger, upping his pressure on Ellis, began to land hard punches around the seventh round and turned the tide in dramatic fashion as a result to pull out a stunning majority-decision victory. And he saved his best for last, putting Ellis down twice in a memorable 12th and final round. That proved to the difference on the cards. One judge scored it a 113-113 draw but the other two gave Villa the nod by the same score, 114-112. Villa was among the few who weren’t surprised. “I know that fighters such as him who are quick sooner or later will get a little tired,” he said, “and that’s what I took advantage of.” Thus, he went from relative unknown to a player in one of the sport’s glamour divisions over night.
Hector Garcia – Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs) was a longshot against Davis for a reason. Not only was he face to face with one of the best fighters in the world pound for pound but he had moved up in weight for the privilege, which made his mission nearly impossible. Still, the setback had to be difficult for the Dominican swallow. He entered the ring with tremendous momentum after upsetting Chris Colbert and defeating Roger Gutierrez to win a 130-pound title last year, with made him a Fighter of the Year candidate. Then it was over in an instant. Davis hurt him with a left to the side of the head late in Round 8, after which he complained as he sat on his stool that he couldn’t see. And that’s where he stayed, becoming just another victim on Davis’ growing list. Garcia will probably go back down to 130, where he could defend his title and face opponents with whom he could actually compete.
BIGGEST LOSER II
Rashidi Ellis – Ellis (24-1, 15 KOs) had everything going for him. He has natural gifts and refined skills, which seemed to be leading him toward a fight for one 147-pound title or another in the near future. And then Villa changed his trajectory. Ellis said afterward that he thought he had done enough to earn the victory. And he might’ve been right. I scored it 114-112 in his favor. However, the judges saw it differently and suddenly he had the first loss in his career. Where does he go from here? One, he needs to figure out what he could’ve done differently in the second half of the fight to prevent that from happening again. And, two, he should follow through on his desire to face Villa again if it’s possible. There’s no better way to make people forget about a disappointing setback than avenging it. And he’s capable of doing that.
Jaron Ennis vs. Karen Chukhadzhian: Ennis (30-0, 27 KOs) was a victim of his own lofty standards against Karen Chukhadzhian (21-2, 11 KOs) on the Davis-Garcia card. The welterweight contender had stopped his previous 19 opponents, the kind of streak that leads you to assume that you’ll see a spectacular stoppage every time he fights. That didn’t happen on Saturday. Most of the blame falls on Chukhadzhian, who was more interested in surviving than taking the risks necessary to win the fight. And when a fighter as skillful and athletic as he is decides to survive, it’s extremely difficult for anyone to stop him. Ennis also is to blame. It’s part of his job to find a way to cut off the ring if his opponent runs; he couldn’t do that, which gives him something to work on in the gym. All that said, Ennis deserves credit: He won every round on all three cards. That’s a terrific night by normal standards.
Demetrius Andrade’s victory: New manager, new division, same result. Andrade, who is now handled by Premiere Boxing Champions, demonstrated in a shutout decision over Demond Nicholson (26-5-1, 22 KOs) in his 168-pound debut on the Davis-Garcia card that he still has it at 34-year-old and can be a factor at super middleweight. If there was a flaw in his performance it was that he couldn’t stop an opponent he dominated even though Nicholson engaged him enough for him to do so. However, that’s par for the course for Andrade, who typically starts quickly and then cruises to a wide decision victory. That formula isn’t exciting but it’s effective. Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs) is thought of as one of the most avoided elite boxers. I can’t imagine any of the top 168-pounders is going to be in a hurry to face him after his performance on Saturday night.
Gervonta Davis forces Hector Luis Garcia to quit on stool after eight rounds
Jaron Ennis goes the distance to beat Karen Chukhadzhian
Roiman Villa drops Rashidi Ellis twice in 12th round, wins stunning decision
Demetrius Andrade easily outpoints Demond Nicholson in 168-pound debut
Gervonta Davis vs. Hector Luis Garcia: LIVE round-by-round updates, results, full coverage