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NEW YORK – Maybe some boxing fans didn’t understand why, or how, Adrien Broner and Floyd Mayweather appeared to mend fences so quickly after Broner experienced a rash of serious personal issues in 2016. After defeating Ashley Theophane in April, as Mayweather stood by ringside Broner issued a challenge to his big brother saying, “I come from nothing and I will never let a man disrespect me. He got to come see me.” Talks of a Mayweather-Broner clash ensued.
Last night, the new IBF World junior lightweight champion Gervonta Davis’ scintillating 7th-round technical-knockout performance versus undefeated champion Jose Predraza at the Barclay’s Center answered everything!
It was Broner who pointed out the talented young Baltimore, MD fighter to Mayweather. The 22-year old Davis, nicknamed Tank, has spent the last few years fighting professionally while regularly being referred to as Mayweather’s protégé. Today, we can call Tank world champion – maybe even the future of boxing.
Boxing pundits questioned whether Mayweather Promotions was moving too fast with Davis, once it was announced at the end of 2016 that he would face the more experienced Pedraza, as the co-main event for Badou Jack’s super middleweight unification fight with James DeGale. In addition to Pedraza’s he experience he was also viewed as bigger and longer fighter. On Saturday January 14th, Davis showed little concern for any of those perceived tale of the tape advantages.
Boxing’s only Puerto Rican-born champion Jose Pedraza (22-1, 12 KOs) entered the bout weighing 129-1/2 pounds with a 2-1/2-inch advantage in height and 1-1/2-inch in reach. Gervonta Davis (17-0, 16 KOs) climbed through the ropes weighing 129 pounds looking remarkably composed for his first shot at a world title – Pedraza’s IBF belt.
Pedraza charged towards Davis at the sound of the opening bell attempting to overwhelm the young southpaw challenger. Davis instantly fired away with several heavy shots, displaying his major strengths to his opponent – great quickness and explosive power punching. Pedraza opted to engage Davis from a southpaw stance, and despite working inside with a lot of upper body movement, Tank started accurately landing on the champion.
Pedraza returned to his corner after round-one looking confident regarding his game plan, but stood farther away from Tank once action resumed in the second round. The Puerto Rican champ continued to try to establish his right jab, while Davis continued to bang away with heavier shots from both hands. Davis handled Pedraza’s size well as the two spent the last third of the round in close quarters exchanging punishing uppercuts and body shots.
Davis’ arsenal of power punches began to fully take hold in the third round. Pedraza’s strategy quickly fell into serious doubt. Davis closed out the first minute of the round with several flurries. As the action briefly veered into foul play, the bout was halted, the referee brought both men together and issued a warning that any further rough housing would receive a point deduction. Davis closed out the round with some seasoned defensive moves to avoid several Pedraza punches.
The champion never fully switched out of his southpaw stance. In round-four Davis continued to be the busier fighter landing more combinations and mixing in some great body work. Pedraza’s pedigree started to show some after a thudding right hook to Davis’ body at the :45 mark. Pedraza put together some combinations as he laid the foundation for his best two rounds in the contest.
Pedraza’s combination punching improved in the fifth round, as Davis’ fast pace from the first few rounds slowed down. Incidentally, two of the three judges scored the round in favor of the champion. Davis got back to work in the final minute, scoffing at Pedraza’s blows and taunting the champ to step to him and bring the fight. The challenger waved to the crowd in between firing away more powerful shots with both of his lowered hands. The champion started to visibly show signs of wear.
A huge outburst from Davis in the middle of the sixth round began to remove any question of this bout being an upset – Davis was markedly the better man. After a vicious left hook crashed into the right side of the grimacing Pedraza’s body Davis stepped around the champion, forced him into ropes and landed a variety of hooks and uppercuts. It was time to finish.
Pedraza finished the round but received an unusually long break for an examination by the doctor before the start of round-seven. Extra time elapsed as a translator repeated some instructions from the doctor to Pedraza. The champion stepped towards Davis bouncing on his toes, but Davis continued to catch the champion at an alarming rate. The action soon moved into Davis’ corner where a left hand crashed against the top of Pedraza’s head, and before the champion could act Davis unleashed a devastating right hook that sent Pedraza stumbling backwards where he collapsed and landed underneath the bottom rope. The battered champion sat on the seat of his trunks as the ref’s count reached seven. He grab the ropes overhead and quickly pulled himself up to his feet as the ref reach the count of nine, but the ref wisely waved the fight off believing that the champion had taken too much punishment. The official time of the technical-knockout was 2:36.
The new 22-year old world champion climbed the ropes to celebrate his accomplishment and to acknowledge Floyd Mayweather, his corner, and the roaring Barclay’s Center crowd. Mayweather pumped his fist in elation for his Mayweather Promotions’ newest world champion. He later confirmed Davis was the future of the sport, adding that his protégé’s performance solidified his flourishing promotional company’s position in sports and entertainment.
Pedraza praised Davis for his impressive performance, and conducted himself like a true champion. However, during his remarks to Jim Gray he noted that during preparation he came down from 155 pounds, he quickly added that the weight was no excuse, but the comment was as perplexing as his failed fight strategy. This made very little sense as his camp knew full well that he was defending a junior lightweight title at 130-pounds. Boxing has itself a bright new star with legitimate knock out power in both hands in Gervonta Davis, but some fans might wonder how things went so terribly wrong for a young world champion in his third title defense.