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Gervonta Davis ices Rolando Romero with one-punch finish

Gervonta Davis
Amanda Westcott/Showtime
Gervonta Davis wows the crowd but now it’s time to fight a worthwhile rival, writes Jack Hirsch at ringside

THE bottom line is that The Barclays Center had its first sell-out (18,970) since the arena opened a decade ago. The size of that crowd raises the question of what the public craved more, the fight or the hype? Certainly we got a heavy dose of the later in Gervonta “Tank” Davis’ sixth round stoppage of Rolando Romero. Afterwards, social media was awash with compliments from celebrities, a sure indication that Davis might be approaching mega star status.

Although both were unbeaten going in, Romero’s overall credentials were far less impressive than Davis’. Regardless, the appeal in the match was less about the skills that would be on display as opposed to the grudge that would be settled after we were treated to a four-letter word fest in the buildup.

Davis, to his credit, was humble afterwards, a sign, perhaps, of some maturity at last. Better still would be him finally stepping up to take on an opponent the calibre of Ryan Garcia, who was in attendance to presumably get the ball rolling on such an encounter.

Romero from Las Vegas, boldly predicted a first round knockout. Outwardly he looked to be the bigger and stronger man, but did not appear polished enough to do anything beyond walk Tank down and hope to catch him with a big blow. And if that was the strategy it was working to an extent. After five rounds, in which neither man landed more than a handful of punches, Davis led 49-46, and 48-47, on the scorecards of judges’ Ron McNair and Robin Taylor respectively, but was behind 48-47 on that of Kevin Morgan’s.

Southpaw Davis boxed smartly. He would land the occasional punch and move out of range. But Romero was able to rough him up a bit when he got inside. A left hook got Davis’ attention in the second round. When he tried to hold, Romero gave him a small shove, forcing Davis to the canvas. At various points Davis complained to referee David Fields about such roughhouse tactics.

In the fifth round Davis stepped back, winced and shook his right hand. But it wasn’t long before that arm was being used to attack so any concerns about an injury were brief.

The heavily pro Davis crowd, many of whom made the three-and-a-half-hour drive from Baltimore were subdued, waiting for their hero to give them something to cheer about. They got that and more with the sudden one punch ending.

With Davis temporarily backed onto the ropes, Romero charged in and threw a right, but was countered with a left hook. It was like a head-on collision. Romero pitched forward against the ropes and went down. He gamely dragged himself up late in the count and gestured he was okay, but was clearly still stunned. Unsatisfied with how Romero was responding to his commands, Fields stopped the fight. It may have been a little premature but when you have to review the replay several times to come to that analysis, it validates the referee’s judgment. The time was 2-39.

Davis said that this was his last fight under the banner of Mayweather Promotions with whom he has spent his entire career. For the record, Davis’ secondary WBA lightweight gong was on the line.

In another bout for a silly secondary WBA belt, middleweight Erislandy Lara was too talented for Cork’s Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan, stopping him at 23 seconds of the eighth round. O’Sullivan fought a determined fight and did effective body work, but Lara picked his spots and was never threatened. The southpaw controlled the action behind the jab, round after round. He was able to pick his spots and score well in short bursts whenever he opened up.

Very late in the fourth O’Sullivan went down in delayed fashion after getting hit with a left cross. The bell saved him. After that Lara spent more time in the pocket. O’Sullivan would land the occasional punch which got Lara’s respect, but it was clear he wasn’t on his opponent’s level.

Just before the bell ended the seventh, a straight left sent O’Sullivan reeling into the ropes. Saved by the bell again, O’Sullivan was allowed to come out for the eighth, but when he stumbled into the ropes after getting hit with a left, the referee Beni Esteves stopped it after 23 seconds.

Give Lara credit for making the adjustment of becoming much more of a fan-friendly fighter after boxing so cautiously for a good part of his career.

Boca Raton’s Luis Arias threw every punch with home run intent against New Jersey veteran Jimmy Williams, but ultimately settled for a 10 round unanimous decision that was scored 99-91 across the board. A torrid exchange to close out the fight drew the appreciation of the crowd.

Jesus Ramos got the win, his 19th in a row without a career defeat, while also getting a measure of family payback. The Arizona fighter was determined, coming on late in the fight to win a unanimous 10-round decision over Californian Luke Santamaria. Judges’ Ken Enzo and Steve Weisfeld had it 97-93, Ken Ezzo 98-92. Arthur Mercante Jr refereed. Santamaria had previously beaten Jesus’ uncle, Abel Ramos.

Mexico’s Eduardo Ramirez won a 10 round majority decision over Miami’s Luis Melendez in an entertaining back and forth fight. John McKaie had it 95-95, but was overruled by judges’ John Poturaj 98-92, and Bernard Bruni 96-94.

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