SAN DIEGO, January 14, 2016 – Showtime Boxing’s televised undercard fights at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn offered fans plenty of action and a look at some competitors they may not have known before.
Undefeated prospect Gervonta Davis (17-0, 16 KOs) graduated to contender with a star-making performance Saturday, stopping veteran champion Jose Pedraza (22-2, 12 KOs) of Puerto Rico in seven rounds. In winning Pedraza’s IBF super featherweight title belt, Davis becomes one of the youngest current division champion in boxing at age 22. Only Japanese minimumweight champion Ryuya Yamanaka is younger at age 21.
Davis, a native of Baltimore, controlled the pace and the style of the fight from the opening bell over Pedraza. He was well-prepared and landed punches with power and accuracy. Pedraza was expected to fight at distance and box to take advantage of his height and reach over Davis. Instead, Pedraza went toe-to-toe and abandoned his technical approach in favor of a brawl, a significant mistake in retrospect.
It was a star-making performance by Davis, who refused to be intimidated by the veteran Pedraza. He came right at Pedraza, and Pedraza for whatever reason chose to engage, which gave Davis a significant advantage due to his superior power. Davis landed the more powerful shots throughout the fight, although Pedraza did win several rounds.
But the damage eventually accumulated on Pedraza, culminating in Davis’s assult in the seventh round. He landed a tremendous right hook and although Pedraza did get to his feet, the referee wisely chose to stop the fight at 2:36 of the round.
“I’ve put in hard work, my team has put in hard work. It means a lot,” said Davis after the victory. “I’ve been telling you all that, you didn’t believe me! I studied Mayweather, I studied Pretty Boy Floyd, not Money,” as his promoter Floyd Mayweather joined him in the ring.
Davis said he felt Pedraza wearing down. “I caught him one time in the body and he backed up. My team … told me to go back to the body. Once I feel like I got you out of there, I punch you on the button. But Floyd and my team told me to go back to the body.” The approach paid off, as it always pays off. Strong body work is money in the bank.
Mayweather was asked whether he thinks Davis is the future of boxing. “Abso-(effing)-lutely!” said Mayweather, to the cheers of the Brooklyn audience.
The victory should move Davis up the super featherweight rankings into the Top 20, but there is serious talent at the top of the division including Vasyl Lomachenko, Francisco Vargas, Jezreel Corrales, and Jason Sosa. He can afford to be patient and keep working on his craft as he rises through the ranks.
Puerto Rican born featherweight world champion Amanda “The Real DeaL” Serrano of Brooklyn (31-1, 23 KOs) and former two-division champion Yazmin Rivas of Mexico (35-10-1, 10 KOs) proved women’s boxing is just as enjoyable to watch as the men with an all-action 10 round fight. Serrano wanted a knockout for her American network TV debut, but she settled for a strong unanimous decision. Judges scored the fight 99-91, 98-02, and 97-93.
Serrano was by far the stronger, more accurate puncher with good body work and a superior left hook. But give Rivas credit, she is strong and has an iron chin. She provides her own offense, but she doesn’t have enough power to stop someone like Serrano.
Nevertheless, it was an entertaining fight and gave fans a great look at what talented female professional boxers can do. Viewers we talked with on social media enjoyed the fight and perhaps there are a few more fans of women’s professional boxing today than before the fight.
Someone’s “oh” had to go in the middleweight bout between Ievgen Khytrov of Ukraine and Immanuwel Aleem of Richmond, Virginia. The two power punchers put on a show in Brooklyn. Khytrov was in control early and Aleem couldn’t settle down. But in Round 3, Aleem landed two snapping left hooks and Khytrov was down. He recovered well, but the momentum started shifting in Aleem’s direction.
In Round 6, Aleem worked behind overhand rights, then hit Khytrov with a body shot, a right to the head, missed, and finally put Aleem on the canvas again with another left. The referee allowed Khytrov to get to his feet, but the fight was over at 1:20 of the round. Aleem, a New York native, was overcome with emotion at his win.
The fight was even on all three judges’ scorecard at the time of the stoppage. Aleem (17-0-1, 9 KOs) had taken control, landing 155 power punches to Khytrov’s 101 power punches, and nearly double overall. It was a significant win for Aleem, who will now Khytrov (14-1, 12 KOs) has some things to work on in the gym, but he can get right back in the mix with good performances.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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