LAS VEGAS- Gervonta “Tank” Davis didn’t break Ryan Garcia’s jaw as he promised during the lead up to their mega fight, but he sure cracked him in the ribs.
Davis knocked Garcia out in the seventh round – the round he predicted for the finish — with a crippling body shot to win the biggest fight of the year on Saturday night before a star-studded sold-out crowd of 20,842 at T-Mobile Arena.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) April 23, 2023
“Me predicting the seventh-round KO was me just trying to get in his head,” Davis said. “I really don’t know until I actually get in there with my opponent, but once I got in there with him I felt like skill-wise, it all matched.”
The fight had no title at stake and was at a catch weight of 136 pounds but Davis and Garcia, who have emerged in recent years as two of boxing’s most popular fighters, delivered a fight so many wanted to see. It was so big that rival broadcasters Showtime and DAZN and promoters Golden Boy and PBC came together to deliver the pay-per-view.
“Everything about this was exciting,” Davis said. “I was excited to be a part of this event. I remember coming up in the Golden Gloves and seeing Floyd (Mayweather) fight at the MGM. It was crazy. I actually just saw Rihanna perform at the Super Bowl, and I thought that’s going to be me one day and we’re here.
“The reality definitely matches the dream. But the job is never done until I retire so I’m going to keep my head down, stay humble and continue to work”
Davis and Garcia both came in tremendous shape and put on a tension-filled, competitive fight until Davis took him out with boxing royalty at ringside, including Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Mike Tyson. Garcia got off to a good start in the opening round, using his longer reach to establish his jab and win the round on two scorecards. But he could not keep it going.
In the second round, after Garcia landed a hard right, Davis quickly held on to him. Garcia was having a strong round. He landed another left and then a combination as Davis was looking to referee Thomas Taylor and complaining about something.
But moments later, Davis (29-0, 27 KOs), 28, a southpaw from Baltimore, landed a tremendous counter left hand to Garcia’s chin and he went down. Many of Davis’ past opponents would not have gotten up but Garcia did and surprisingly did not seem too shaky.
Garcia (23-1, 19 KOs), 24, of Los Angeles, finished the round well and because he had been so dominant earlier in the round, none of the judges scored it 10-8 for Davis even though he scored a knockdown.
“The first knockdown was just him not knowing his placement and I knew that I was the smaller guy, and my coach (Calvin Ford) was telling me in camp that he’s going to come up with his head up, so just shoot over the top,” Davis said
There was a fierce exchanges in the sixth round as dueling chants of “Ryan! Ryan!” and “Tank! Tank!” broke out in the crowd.
The seven round appeared very close but then Davis landed a left to the ribs and Garcia took a step back and finally took a knee on a delayed reaction. He was trying to get up when Taylor reached 10 and waved off the fight at 1 minute, 44 seconds.
“I didn’t think that body shot would end it, but I saw his facial expression and that’s what made me take it to him. It was a good shot, for sure,” Davis said. “I thought he was going to get up but I like to play mind games, so when he was looking at me, I was looking at him trying to tell him, ‘Get up!’. And he just shook his head, no.”
Garcia said he just got caught with a good shot.
“I don’t want to make any excuses in here. He caught me with a good shot and I just couldn’t recover and that’s it,” Garcia said. “He caught me with a good body shot, snuck under me and caught me good. I couldn’t breathe. I was going to get back up, but I just couldn’t get up.
“I think I should have pressured him a little harder near the ropes. I was giving him a little bit too much respect and I think that was my downfall. I think I gave him a little too much respect in the ring.”
Davis was ahead on all three scorecards at the time of the knockout, 59-56, 59-55, 58-56.
“I’m good. Tank is a great fighter,” Garcia said. “I take my hat off to him I know we talked a lot of trash leading into the fight, but he knows what it is. It’s all love at the end of the day. I was honored to be in the ring with a great fighter and I respect him a lot. You know how the business goes. But I want to say to Tank, you’re a good man.”
As stunning as the knockout was they clearly respected each other’s power because there were not a lot of punches thrown or landed.
According to CompuBox, Davis landed 35 of 103 punches (34 percent) and Garcia landed 39 of 163 (24 percent). Only once did either man reach double-digit connects in a round when Davis landed 10 in the sixth round.
Still, when you are a knockout artist like Davis is, it means fans will flock to you and although it was a nontitle fight, it was for much more some believed — to become the next face of boxing, at least in North America.
Davis, who has won titles in three divisions (including secondary belts) and currently holds the WBA “regular” lightweight title, believes this win puts him on a new level regardless of any title belt.
“I’m definitely the face of boxing,” Davis said. “Absolutely!”