By Mark Elezaj
LOS ANGELES – Gervonta Davis (26-0, 24 KOs) didn’t deliver the type of performance the fans were expecting, but he did enough to retain his WBA lightweight title with a tough unanimous decision victory over Issac Cruz before a crowd of 15,580 at The Staples Center.
Two judges scored it 115-113 with a third score card of 116-112 for Davis.
The Fighting Voice had it 115-113 for Davis.
This was the first time Davis went the 12-round distance. The only other time he went the distance was a six-round victory back in 2014, his ninth pro fight.
The fight was Davis’ first at 135 pounds since his 12th-round TKO victory over Yuriorkis Gamboa in December 2019.
His last fight, an 11th-round TKO of Mario Barrios in June, was at 140 and The Santa Cruz fight was fought at 130.
Cruz did not make it easy for Davis at all. He applied pressure while focusing on a body attack. At times, however, Cruz would just follow Davis around the ring, looking to set him up for something.
Rather than work off of his jab, Cruz elected to push forward, throwing wild punches. He connected on nine jabs while Davis landed 20.
The difference in the fight was that Davis controlled the distance and landed the cleaner punches.
In a fight that was very close to score, according to the judges, Cruz won the opening round on all three cards, while Davis was the better of the two in the following two rounds.
Davis won Rounds 5, 6 and 7 before the fight began to heat up, with both men trading punches.
One judge had Cruz winning the final four rounds on their card, while Davis won the final round on another card to avoid the draw.
Davis chose to box off of his back foot, looking to use Cruz’s aggression against him. Throughout the fight, Davis was able to land a counter left uppercut.
Cruz (22-2-1, 15 KOs) however, was able to take the shots and continued to move forward.
“That’s my style, ‘Pitbull’ is always going to be on the attack,” said Cruz.
“I think we retained rhythm from the start to the end. If the fans want to see a rematch, we’ll do it.”
“The fans are speaking on who won this fight,” said Cruz, who accepted the fight on a month’s notice after Rolando Romero was removed from the fight following a sexual assault allegation.
Davis spoke on injuring his hand after the fight.
“I hurt my hand so I couldn’t get him out of there,” said Davis, who noticeably rarely threw a left hand over the final two rounds.
“He’s a shorter fighter so I was throwing down on the top of his head. I hit him with my knuckle and messed it up. I hurt my hand in the sixth round.”
“I gotta get the hand checked out,” Davis said. “It is what it is. That’s what comes with this sport.”
The extent of the injury is unclear at this time.
When asked of there would be a rematch, Davis replied “Hell no.”
When asked about Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, who continued to impress with his victory over Joseph Diaz Jr., or George Kambosos Jr.’s, who stunned the world with his victory over Teofimo Lopez last weekend to win the undisputed lightweight championship, Davis replied, “Either guy is easy work, easy work, easy work man,” Davis said of Ryan Garcia, Kambosos and Haney. “I’m the top dog.”
After the fight, they asked Floyd Mayweather what he thought about the performance.
“They wanted ‘Tank’ to knock this guy out,” Mayweather said. “Since he didn’t get the knockout tonight, now he lost. It’s bulls—.”
~The Fighting Voice~