Gervonta “Tank” Davis delivered a Knockout of the Year candidate over four-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz in the most significant fight of his career, retaining his WBA Lightweight title and picking up the WBA Super Featherweight title Saturday night on Showtime PPV at the Alamodome in San Antonio in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
It was the first major boxing event with fans in attendance since COVID-19 forced a halt to U.S. sports in March with an announced crowd of 9,024.
It was both fighters’ pay-per-view main event debut, and Davis (24-0, 23 KOs) and Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19 KOs) delivered an all-action war that had the fans on their feet from start to finish. The fight, which was contested at 130 pounds, saw both fighters stand in the pocket and press the action. It was in the sixth round when the defining moment of the night occurred, as Davis found an opening to land his trademark left uppercut, a knockout shot which Santa Cruz never saw coming. Davis proved that he is one of the most powerful punchers in the sport, stunning the crowd.
“The uppercut wasn’t the key coming into the fight, but I adapted to what he was bringing,” said Baltimore’s Davis. “I knew he was taller and crouching down and moving forward. Once he moved forward, I tried to jab and make him run into the shot. He was right there for it. He punches, but he doesn’t try to get out of the way. There was nowhere for him to go on that knockout because I got him into the corner. "
The power and body attack of the 25-year-old Davis was the difference as he landed 55 percent of his power punches to 29 percent for Santa Cruz, who was having his best round of the fight in the sixth round prior to the defining punch. The stronger Davis lured the 32-year-old Santa Cruz into a firefight as 34 of Davis’ 84 landed punches were body shots.
“Leo is a tough warrior and a strong Mexican fighter,” said Davis, who is promoted by all-time great Floyd Mayweather. “He came ready for me. I was just the better fighter tonight. I want to maintain both belts. Whatever decision me and my team comes up with, we’ll go with it. I’m not ducking or dodging anybody. I’m a pay-per-view star. Everybody knows I’m number one and I showed it tonight.”
“We didn’t get the win, but I’m okay,” said Santa Cruz, who was taken to a nearby hospital for observation.
Davis vs. Santa Cruz was a rare clash in boxing history in which world titles in two weight classes were at stake. Other notable instances in recent boxing history are the 1988 Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Donny Lalonde fight for the light heavyweight and super middleweight titles, and the 2014 Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana rematch for the super welterweight and welterweight championships.