By Luis E. Pabon
Donovan George won a hard-fought unanimous decision over Dyah Davis to claim the IBO super middleweight title Saturday evening at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.
Scores were 116-112 and 115-113 twice, in favor of George, the local favorite who enjoyed a relatively strong start to secure the close but well-deserved win.
The fight took a couple of rounds to get going, as it lacked the sustained action that normally comes when George fights. The Chicagoland super middleweight picked up the pace in round two and was easily the busier fighter against a reluctant Davis.
A clean victory appeared well on its way, until George was reduced to a one-handed fighter for much of the second half of the fight. The right hand shots that landed with regularity early on were nonexistent late in the fight. George revealed afterward that he believes he broke his hand in the middle of the fight, no coincidence that Davis began to dig his way back in at that point.
Davis managed to win five of the last seven rounds on two scorecards, smartly picking up on the fact that George was wounded and thus, more willing to let his hands go than was the case earlier in the fight.
George dug deep late in the fight, refusing to let the world championship slip through his grasp, even if unable to formed a clenched fist with his right hand by that point. The crowd favorite rallied late in the fight to stop the bleeding, as Davis crept close enough to make it interesting, only to come up short at the end of the fight.
With the win, George improves to 26-4-2 (22KOs), and collects his first world title. The closest he's previously come was in a 12th round loss to Adonis Stevenson in a super middleweight title eliminator nearly two years ago. Stevenson became a mandatory challenger with that win, but instead moved up to light heavyweight to win the world championship.
Meanwhile, George was in search of a return to the title stage. He was due to travel to Colombia with the same vacant belt at stake versus Alexander Brand, but was informed just prior to boarding a plane to not travel abroad, as Brand ultimately pulled out of the fight.
The fallout allowed George's promoter, Hitz Boxing to instead stage a summer homecoming. The atmosphere at U.S Cellular Field was sorely lacking compared to last year's return to outdoor boxing in Chicago, where more than 8,000 fans filed into the ballpark for one of the best televised fight cards of the year, with Artur Szpilka and Andrzej Fonfara both posting huge knockout wins on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights.
There were no TV cameras for Saturday's show, or much of a crowd. But what the night did boast was a career defining moment for one of Chicago's own.
Luis E. Pabon is a freelance writer and a currently in his junior year at Arizona State University. He is NOT the referee by the same name. Follow Luis on Twitter: @JuanLechePabon.