Gervonta Davis has arrived: Weekend Review
Gervonta Davis: The squat, powerful fighter from Baltimore had already passed the eye test by the time he stepped into the ring to face junior lightweight titleholder and 2008 Olympian Jose Pedraza on the Badou Jack-James DeGale card Saturday in Brooklyn. Fifteen knockouts in 16 previous fights got our attention.
The problem was that he had not beaten anyone of note since turning pro four years ago. Now he has. And he did it in eye-popping fashion on national television, making him a marketable fighter overnight.
Davis patiently broke down his strangely stationary opponent, landing the kind of heavy, damaging punches that portend a violent finish. That came in the seventh round. Pedraza had already been weakened by prolonged punishment when Davis unloaded a crippling series of blows, the last a right hook that nearly knocked Pedraza’s head into the Barclays Center seats and ended the fight.
Not many young fighters make that kind of impression in their first opportunity to perform on a big stage. Not only did Davis (17-0, 16 knockouts) win in a spectacular manner, he did it as an underdog against a good opponent who was undefeated going into the fight. Pedraza (22-1, 12 KOs) won his title by nearly shutting out Andrey Klimov in 2015 and was making his third defense. Still, the Puerto Rican was outclassed by an untested 22-year-old.
Davis would appear to have a very bright future.
Jack-DeGale: I didn’t expect that. I thought the athletic DeGale would engage Jack just enough to make the fight competitive – and possibly win – but spend most of his time on his bicycle, moving away from trouble over 12 boring rounds.
Instead, we got a thrilling back-and-forth war.
DeGale moved but he also stood his ground at many junctures, in part because the determined Jack forced him to. The result was a high-energy, very entertaining fight in which both participants had their moments, DeGale early in the fight and Jack down the stretch.
Jack almost won in a wild final round, when he put DeGale down and hurt him badly, but the Englishman survived and the fight went to the cards. The judges scored it a draw: Two had it 113-113, the third 114-112 for DeGale. I had it 114-112 for Jack. All of the above scores are acceptable, as the fight was close.
The knockdown prevented Jack from losing. Had he won the 12th 10-9 (instead of 10-8) on all three cards, DeGale would’ve won 115-112, 114-113 and 114-113. Jack suffered a flash knockdown in the first round, which also cost him a victory.
A rematch is in order but it probably won’t happen. Jack seems intent on moving up to 175 pounds. That’s a shame. Everyone who saw that fight would like to see a second version.
Jack has now had to settle for consecutive draws he arguably should’ve won. He fought to a majority draw with Lucian Bute in April.
Of course, Jack felt he should’ve received the decision on Saturday. So did his promoter, Floyd Mayweather Jr. And a look at DeGale and Jack after the fight supported their contention: DeGale’s face was badly bruised and he lost a tooth; Jack’s face was relatively clean.
The reality is that the fight was close enough to justify a draw, though. DeGale built an early lead; Jack rallied.
Jack shouldn’t be too frustrated. He enhanced his reputation with a strong performance, demonstrating clearly that he’ll be a major player at light heavyweight immediately. …
Who knew that referee Arthur Mercante Jr. had such a good chin? Jack threw a left hook that missed DeGale but landed on Mercante’s face, buckling his knees. Mercante, who fell into Jack’s arms, was shaken but he was able to continue. …
The career of Yuri Foreman (34-3, 10 KOs) appears to be at an end after being stopped by WBA 154-pound titleholder Erislandy Lara in four rounds Friday in Hialeah, Florida. He has nothing to be ashamed of.
He outboxed Daniel Santos to win a wide decision and Santos’ WBA junior middleweight title in 2009, becoming the first Israeli to win a major belt. He lost his title to Miguel Cotto in his first defense but displayed uncommon courage, fighting for several minutes as a one-legged boxer after blowing out his knee.
He returned from a two-year layoff and won two fights to get his shot at Lara (24-2-2, 14 KOs) but, at 36, couldn’t compete with one of the best fighters in the world. He can always tell himself that he gave it one last shot.