Davis Closes in on Icon Status; Cordina Regains Title in a FOTY Candidate
Gervonta “Tank” Davis (29-0, 27 KOs) has always been given credit for his explosive one-punch power, but his boxing skills and fight IQ have always been massively underrated due to his ability to end a fight at any moment. This past weekend, we saw his ability to carry out a gameplan and utilize his elite boxing IQ at the highest level. Though Ryan Garcia (23-1, 19 KOs) was not the most accomplished opponent that Davis has been in with to date, he posed the most danger and was the first opponent that had comparable firepower to the multi-time world champion. Ryan Garcia’s bread and butter is his lightning quick left hook. Davis said in multiple pre-fight interviews how he planned on taking that punch away from Ryan, and he did just that in the fight.
Garcia believed he had Davis hurt early in the second round, and his aggressiveness ultimately lead to his demise. In the sequence preceding the second round knockdown Ryan threw three consecutive left hooks. Davis ducked under each of them, and then threw a counter straight left hand that landed flush and send Garcia to the canvas. Much like he did in his fight against Rolando “Rolly” Romero (14-1, 12 KOs) last year, Davis allowed Garcia to gain confidence in his ability to come forward and landed a sharp counter as soon as he overextended and was most vulnerable.
The momentum of the fight completely shifted after that knockdown, and Davis was in full control the rest of the way. Ryan never got back to using his jab the way he did in the opening round, and didn’t open up much outside of a few moments as he was weary of being hit with another counter shot from Tank. In the seventh round Ryan once against found himself out of position on the inside, and a left hand to the liver forced him to take a knee and ended the fight as he was unable to rise to his feet before referee Thomas Taylor reached the count of ten. It was a delayed reaction which confused many casual fans who were watching live, but if you have ever been in a ring you understand that even a grazing shot to the liver can shut your body down and momentarily paralyze you and that was what happened to Ryan Garcia.
With the victory, Gervonta Davis inched closer to being able to call himself the “face of boxing” for the next generation. Not only is he a megastar who’s explosiveness excites both hardcore and casual boxing fans, his boxing skills have also proved to be world class. He throws the least amount of punches per round of any world ranked contender regardless of weight class, but his ability to make every punch he throws count is unmatched at the lower weights. The way he is able to turn his defense into offense can change the course of any fight in a split second, and has fans closely watching every second of his fights in anticipation of what may come.
As a whole, the event certainly delivered and I can only hope that seeing a fight of this magnitude take place can inspire other super fights to get signed on the dotted line. Davis is clearly a superstar in the sport of boxing, and I believe it is safe to say that he is now the most recognizable American boxer that we have active today. His ability to sell out arenas all over the country and captivate not only the boxing world, but the mainstream sports world is unlike any other American at the moment. Even though he came up short, Ryan Garcia also deserves a lot of credit for pushing as hard as he did to give the fans the fight they all wanted to see. If we want to see these young fighters continuing to put everything on the line, then we must respect whoever comes up short because the event wouldn’t have been possible without them.
David Morrell Jr (9-0, 8 KOs) was the co-main event of the Showtime PPV card, and did exactly what you want a young fighter to do when they are given a massive opportunity like this. He brutally knocked out former Olympic silver medalist Yamaguchi Falcao (24-2-1, 10 KOs) in the first round and sent shockwaves throughout the boxing world. I knew Falcao was an experienced and tricky operator, and figured he would take Morrell some rounds, but that was absolutely not the case. Morrell teased a fight with two-time super middleweight champion David Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs) as a possibility later on this year. If undisputed champion Canelo Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) does indeed take on a rematch with WBA light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) at either 168 or 175lbs, sign me up for Morrell vs Benavidez. That is a fight that couldn’t possibly disappoint and would give Canelo a clear next opponent to defend his titles against.
Bektemir Melikuziev (12-1, 9 KOs) got revenge against Gabe Rosado (26-17-1, 15 KOs) and avenged the only blemish on his pro record. The fight underwhelmed, but Melikuziev’s team won’t mind that one bit as their main goal was to get the victory and avoid a counter shot that could have got them into trouble similar to their first matchup. Rosado announced his retirement after the bout. His career should serve as an example that the amount of losses you sustain in your career doesn’t always define you, and as long as you are giving the fans fun fights then the opportunities will continue to come.
Friend of the program and rising middleweight Elijah Garcia (15-0, 12 KOs) picked up the unanimous decision victory over Kevin Salgado (15-2-1, 7 KOs) to open up the pay-per-view. The fight was tougher than a lot of people anticipated, but going the ten round distance against a savvy veteran like Salgado is a great learning experience and will be very beneficial for Elijah as he continues to move up the ranks.
(Photo via BoxingScene.com)
Earlier in the day there was a title fight that flew under the radar because of the massive event that succeeded it, but that does not mean that it was not an entertaining affair. Joe Cordina (16-0, 9 KOs) and Shavkat Rakhimov (17-1-1, 14 KOs) competed in a fight of the year candidate that saw both men leave it all in the ring. Cordina became the IBF 130lb champion after starching Kenichi Ogawa (27-2-1, 19 KOs) in the second round of their fight that took place last summer, but his initial reign was short lived. Just four months after winning the title, Cordina was stripped of the belt due after undergoing hand surgery that caused him to pull out of his scheduled mandatory defense. Rakhimov would win the vacant belt via TKO against Zelfa Barrett (29-2, 16 KOs), which set up this matchup.
Cordina would regain his title with a split decision victory. His hand speed was too much for Rakhimov early, and a left hook dropped Rakhimov in the second round. Rakhimov would have moments of success when he was able to close the distance, and had Cordina hurt up against the ropes after landing a lead right hook in round five that momentarily stunned him. Cordina weathered the storm and used his straight right hand and right uppercut to keep Rakhimov at bay for most of the fight. Both men showed the heart of a champion, neither wavered when they were hurt and Rakhimov kept applying pressure even as the his left eye began to close as a result of taking flush right hands from Cordina.
It was criminal that Cordina was stripped of his title to begin with, especially considering how inactive a lot of champions are this day in age. It was good to see him right the IBF’s wrong and regain his title. I would be interested in seeing him unify with fellow 130lb champions Hector Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs), Emanuel Navarrete (37-1, 33 KOs) and O’Shaquie Foster (20-2, 11 KOs). I view Foster as the best of the four champions, but give them all a chance at beating one another which gives even more of a reason to push for these fights to happen. Rakhimov proved that he is still a legit title contender, and can give anyone hell: win, lose, or draw.