SAN DIEGO, Calif., October 31, 2020 – Gervonta “Tank” Davis of Baltimore (24-0, 23 KOs) got the statement win of his career Saturday, scoring a sixth-round knockout victory over Leo Santa Cruz of Los Angeles (37-2-1, 19 KOs). Davis is now both the WBA World Lightweight and WBA World Super Featherweight champion.
Held in front of 9,034 fans at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, predominantly cheering on Santa Cruz along with a pay per view audience yet to be calculated, Davis erased many of the doubts about his skills or work ethic with a single devastating uppercut, dropping Santa Cruz in the corner with no count needed.
“He was just right there for it,” said Davis of the winning shot. “He punches, but he don’t try to get out of the way. He’s a tough warrior, a strong Mexican. He came to fight, he came right at me. I was just a better person tonight.”
At the time of the knockout, Davis was one round up on Santa Cruz, who came out far more aggressively than most people predicted. He has always been a volume puncher, and Saturday’s fight was no different. But in the first two rounds, Santa Cruz out muscled and out hustled Davis, winning both rounds. Davis later admitted to being rusty and not warmed up enough.
“Once we started fighting, you could see I was still a little cold,” said Davis. “He was trying to counter my punches. So I adapted. I started warming up and started settling down, I listened to Floyd (Mayweather) and my coach.
“It’s a lot of pressure on me, so I’m anxious,” explained Davis. “I want to get them out of there. I’m still learning to slow down in there.” Davis did settle down and pressed Santa Cruz to take away his longer reach and ability to fight from a greater distance. For the most part, Santa Cruz indulged him. This is what eventually led to Santa Cruz being open for the devastating uppercut knockout.
It’s tempting to imagine how the rest of the fight might have progressed had Davis not scored the knockout punch. Santa Cruz looked strong and was in the fight with a chance to win – until he wasn’t. Santa Cruz was talking and conscious immediately after the knockout. He was taken to a local San Antonio hospital as a precaution after the fight.
Supporting actors played big roles in this drama, including the trainers, Calvin Ford for Davis, and Jose Santa Cruz for his son Jose. The elder Santa Cruz has battled spinal cancer and nearly died from COVID-19. Leo Santa Cruz says it’s a miracle his father survived. Santa Cruz was present in the corner directing the action from a wheelchair, with Leo’s brother and co-trainer Antonio carrying the rest of the load.
Davis acknowledged the elder Santa Cruz. “I want to give a big shout out to Leo’s dad. He’s a real champion tonight.”
Davis is promoted by Floyd Mayweather, who stalked the sidelines and shouted himself hoarse throughout the fight. At the post-fight news conference, Mayweather said, “Amazing, amazing, amazing performance … I’m putting Tank in position to do what I did. I’m going to always love him unconditional … I’m probably happier than he is. I’m super proud of him.” Mayweather says he and Davis will discuss his next fight in 20 to 30 days. Davis said he intends to defend his titles both at 130 and 135 pounds.
Asked if his performance warrants him being a “pound for pound guy,” Davis said, “that’s not up to me, but me and my team think so.” Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia may want their say on this in the future.
Program note: A delayed telecast of Saturday’s main and co-main event will air on Showtime Boxing on Saturday, November 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Wild Wild West: Mario Barrios takes the Cowboy Ryan Karl out in six rounds
In the co-main event, fellow Texans Mario Barrios and Ryan “Cowboy” Karl put on a wild, crowd-pleasing action fight for the six rounds it lasted, with Barrios scoring a TKO win at 2:23 of the round to retain his WBA super lightweight title.
Barrios (26-0, 17 KOs) and Karl (18-3, 12 KOs) exchanged super-changing offensive effort like two kids on a Halloween candy high. Barrios is the more skilled fighter, but Karl made up the difference early in the fight on sheer effort.
Barrios pulled away as he got the upper hand. He made it stick in the sixth round with a vicious right, causing Karl to touch his glove to the canvas to avoid falling. Karl beat the count, but he knew he was in trouble and decided to go for broke. There was a hard clash of heads during the firefight, opening a cut worth of a slasher movie on Karl’s forehead. It made a bad situation for Karl worse, and Barrios capitalized. He caught Karl with a short left uppercut and follow up left to the head. Referee Luis Pabon called the TKO at 2:23 of the round.
“I knew he was going to come out hard. I was patient, I was ready to go 12 rounds, but I got him out of there,” said Barrios. He thanked his trainer Virgil Hunter for the victory. “Virgil has meant a lot. He’s more than a coach; he’s a mentor, he’s like family. This fight was for Dia De Los Muertos, and all my ancestors,” said Barrios. Barrios is the first boxer from San Antonio to successfully defend a title.
Rougarou returns: Regis Prograis proves he’s back
Former super lightweight champion Regis Prograis (25-1, 21 KOs) was motivated to get his undercard bout out of the way quickly against Juan Heraldez of Las Vegas (16-1-1, 10 KOs). His wife’s due date with their third child coincided with Saturday’s fight. No problem. The Rougarou roared with his left hand, pummeling Heraldez until he could drop him early in the third round. Heraldez got up, and Prograis moved in to pound him against the ropes. The referee stepped in quickly to save Heraldez at 1:23 of the round.
“She told me ‘just get it over with.’ said Prograis after the fight. He now lives in Texas, about a two-hour drive from the Alamodome, so he’s surely on the road home now.
“I’m getting my belts back!” Prograis declared as his gloves were taken off. “I still feel I’m the best at 140. I’m going to prove it every time we fight,” said Prograis. “Me and Josh Taylor, we have to have a rematch. We know it’s going to happen. Hey, right now, it’s money and belts, that’s what we care about. I’m just glad to be back.”
Prograis dedicated the fight to his 92-year-old grandfather, who passed away on August 29, which is also the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Isaac Cruz KOs Diego Magdaleno
Isaac Cruz of Mexico City (20-1-1 15 KOs) announced himself as a fighter to watch. He opened the PPV broadcast with an impressive first-round knockout win against Diego Magdaleno of Las Vegas (32-4, 13 KOs). Cruz, nicknamed “Pitbull” as well as the “Mini Mike Tyson,” lived up to both monikers closing out the fight in just 53 seconds with a rapid knockdown, followed by the closer with a vicious uppercut. Magdaleno was out cold, and it was briefly one of those frightening moments scarier than any Halloween tricks. But Magdaleno got to his feet to congratulate Cruz and leave the ring.
“I came prepared for this fight. I was surprised it was a quicker fight,” said a delighted Cruz. “I thought it would go longer tonight, but my natural instinct is always to go for it in the first round. I have confidence that I could win the world title right now. I thought it was a statement win. From now, on hopefully everyone will know my name, and I’ll get the big fights.” Cruz said he’d love a fight with Teofimo Lopez “if he’s tough enough to take it, bring it on.”
Magdaleno now has a career in real estate, and he needs to focus on his success there. This should be his last bout.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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