Los Angeles, CA. Injuries happen in sports all the time, but when a boxer injures his hand, it means he is fighting with one hand. That is what Gervonta “Tank” Davis did at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in retaining his World Boxing Association Lightweight title with a unanimous decision over the hard charging Isaac Cruz. Cruz (22-2-1) was a replacement fighter for this fight, but he was probably the toughest opponent for Davis in his 26 pro fights. Isaac, pronounced EE Sock, Cruz from Mexico said he was going to press Davis and that is exactly what he did.
In round one, Cruz, 23, had his primary focus on the mid-section of Davis (26-0), and he landed some wicked shots to his body. Davis, with his 24 knockouts proved that he is more than a knockout artist. He boxed beautifully. He moved side to side and kept his head out of the way of Cruz’s wild right hands. Around the 5th or 6th round, Davis hurt his left hand. Davis, 27, is a southpaw. “I hurt my left hand in the 6th round,” said Davis. “He is a shorter fighter, and I was punching down and hit him on the head and hurt my hand. I hit my knuckle and I couldn’t use it for the rest of the fight.”
Cruz was a rare opponent to be shorter than Davis. It made it tough. ”I had to get through it. No matter if he is taller or shorter, I have to get through it.” Davis showed the utmost respect for Cruz. “He is definitely a warrior. He didn’t get the win, but a star was born tonight.” The judges scored the fight, 116-112 and 115-113 twice, all for Davis.
From the 6th round on, Davis did not use his left hand. It was obvious to the crowd and Davis’ corner. Even the referee, Thomas Taylor, came to the corner and said he knew the hand was hurting but he would not stop the fight if Davis could protect himself. During this time is when Davis showed superb boxing skills. He used his right jab and crisp movement for the rest of the fight. Cruz put relentless pressure on Tank and won the last 4 rounds on two judges’ cards.
Davis never hurt Cruz. His famous uppercut was on full display, but he never connected like he did in other fights. The sold-out crowd groaned every time he threw that punch. Cruz showed his uppercut, too. His never landed clean either. Cruz’s primary work was to the body. He connected on a few hard shots to Davis’ head, but never hurt Tank. “I’m not a fighter just goes out there and look for the knockout,” said Davis. “I was just warming up to see what he do the best with his strong hand. I knew he was coming wide so I had to duck under his arm even thought he was a shorter fighter.”
Davis is the primary draw in all of boxing these days. He has sold out fights in Baltimore, his hometown, Atlanta and Los Angeles. He wore LA Lakers colors with Kobe Bryant’s numbers on his trunks. He went to the hospital to have his hand examined after the fight.
Photo credit: Sean Michael Ham
Ron Harris, retired college administrator, coach, broadcaster, Internet and TV sports producer and host. Former radio host of a live call-in show. Extremely close to the sports landscape in the Washington, DC metro area. Former radio sports reporter, covering MLB, college sports, major boxing events and much more.