Gervonta Davis finds his mojo in middle rounds to retain WBA lightweight title


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Boxer Gervonta “Tank” Davis continued his rapid ascension with a convincing victory over Hector Luis Garcia early Sunday morning, concluding the final seconds of the decisive eighth round with several jarring blows to the head that left his formerly undefeated opponent dazed.

Then Davis, a Baltimore southpaw, officially was able to celebrate retaining his World Boxing Association lightweight championship with a backflip off the ring post when Garcia failed to answer the bell for the ninth round in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on Showtime pay-per-view at Capital One Arena.

“I knew I caught him good, but I didn’t know I caught him like that,” said Davis, who headlined his fifth pay-per-view and sold out an arena for the eighth consecutive fight. “I came back to the corner, and I knew I was about to knock him out because I had started touching him more.”

Davis ran his record to 28-0 with 26 knockouts in dispatching a challenger who last year unexpectedly rose to prominence by winning the WBA super featherweight title. Garcia’s record fell to 16-1 (10 KOs) as he sat on a stool in his corner with a glazed expression as fans began cheering Davis.

After early rounds in which neither fighter produced much activity, Davis had many in the announced sellout of 19,731 rising to their feet in the fourth when he landed a left to the body and used swift counterpunching to freeze Garcia with a right to the jaw.

Davis continued to move forward confidently in the fifth, ending the round with a rousing three-punch combination, before the pace slowed again in the sixth with clinching on the part of both Davis and Garcia.

“Tank went out there and really started putting it together,” said his trainer Calvin Ford. “I was like, ‘Wow.’ I was shocked. I didn’t know that he hit him that hard to make him not want to come out.”

Commotion in the crowd forced both fighters to a neutral corner in the middle of the eighth round as security attempted to de-escalate a disagreement that appeared to unfold in the vicinity of where Gary Russell Jr., the former flyweight champion from Capitol Heights, and his brothers were sitting several rows from the ring.

“That’s why I stepped back because I didn’t want to be caught with a punch,” Davis said. “That’s why we have security.”

Rapper Meek Mill was also seated in the area and tweeted, “I almost fought a boxer telling him this fight not going 12 rounds I missed the big bomb!!!!” A spokesperson for Russell has not responded to a request from The Post for comment.

Issues outside the ring accompanied Davis to the District. The latest stems from his arrest Dec. 27 in Parkland, Fla., for allegedly striking a woman on the right side of her head, according to an incident report from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

The alleged incident unfolded at a home owned under a trust Davis controls, records indicate. Davis was jailed on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge of battery causing bodily harm after the woman, who does not live with Davis, suffered an abrasion on the inside of her lip, according to the incident report.

Released Dec. 28 on $1,000 bail, Davis denied the charges in a since deleted social media post. Two days later Vanessa Posso, the previously unnamed alleged victim and mother of Davis’s daughter, released a statement on social media refuting claims of domestic violence

Legal troubles aside, Davis entered Saturday not only having to contend with Garcia but also thinking longer term toward another opponent with the same last name. A deal for Davis to fight undefeated Ryan Garcia in a mega-bout in Las Vegas in the spring reportedly is in place.

Ryan Garcia had been scheduled to fight Mercito Gesta on Jan. 28 in a tuneup but opted to forgo that bout to focus exclusively on Davis, who said this week his full attention would be on Hector Garcia and putting on a show for his supporters in the District.

Peterson comeback ends badly

The first championship prize fight of this magnitude to take place at the District’s marquee indoor sports and entertainment venue since Mike Tyson’s final bout in 2005 included the failed comeback attempt of one of the sport’s local luminaries, Lamont Peterson.

The former unified super lightweight champion born in the nation’s capital retired in March 2019 and turned to training his younger brother before electing to fight again on Saturday’s card against journeyman Michael Ogundo.

The decision to get back in the ring ended with Peterson (35-6-1 17 KOs), 38, tumbling to the canvas early in the fourth round of the scheduled six-rounder when Ogundo (17-16, 14 KOs) landed a combination to the head.

Moments later, after Peterson stumbled to his feet and wobbled from more punishment, his corner threw in the towel at 2:05, marking a stark contrast from the most memorable moment of his career in a bout that also took place in his hometown.

In December 2011 Peterson upset Amir Khan via a 12-round split decision to claim the WBA and IBF super lightweight titles at Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Davis attended that fight as a guest of Peterson’s and has credited the opportunity to hold those championship belts as motivation for his career.

Peterson has lost his last three fights. His last victory came in February 2017 when Peterson beat David Avanesyan in 12-round unanimous decision at Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

Mixed results from other locals

While Peterson was by far the most accomplished area fighter on the undercard, others with ties to the District took part in preliminary matches, including Laurel super middleweight Demond Nicholson (26-5-1, 22 KOs) losing to Demetrius Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs) via a unanimous 10-round decision.

Earlier Travon Marshall, a super welterweight from Capitol Heights, Md., ran his record to 7-0 (six KOs) with a knockout of Shawn West (7-3-1 four KOs) 48 seconds into the first round.

Also winning were Keeshawn Williams (11-1, two KOs), a Lanham welterweight, in a six-round unanimous decision against Gustavo David Vittori (26-12-1, 12 KOs) and District welterweight Jalil Hackett (5-0, four KOs) registering a first-round knockout of Joel Guevara (4-9-1, three KOs).



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