Gervonta “Tank” Davis rocked Hector Luis Garcia with a left hand in the closing moments of Round 8, prompting the underdog to retire on his stool ahead of the ninth round Saturday in Washington, D.C.
Garcia absorbed a flurry of power shots on unsteady legs and later said, “I didn’t know where I was when he hit me with that shot. My head still hurts. I couldn’t see, but my vision is back.”
With the TKO, Davis (28-0, 26 KOs) keeps intact a planned April 15 super fight against Ryan Garcia (no relation) in Las Vegas, though that matchup isn’t yet official. Davis was ahead 79-73, 79-73 and 78-74 at the time of the stoppage.
“I was trying to beat him mentally,” said Davis, 28. “I was trying to trick him with my hands and my eyes and things like that because he’s a tough fighter. I had to bait him. … God willing, I’m ready for the fight [with Ryan Garcia]. It’s scheduled for April. He’s been training; he’s been talking.”
Davis, who is typically a slow starter, didn’t land many clean punches during the first three rounds as Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs) dictated the pace with his southpaw jab. Davis finally found his rhythm in Round 4.
The star boxer connected on a stinging counter right hand and a couple of lefts that caught Garcia’s attention in a fast-paced fourth. Garcia is a 130-pound titleholder who moved up to 135 for the career-high payday, yet he was all too willing to stand in the pocket and trade with the bigger, stronger puncher.
Davis, who is from nearby Baltimore and packed Capital One Arena with more than 19,000 fans, began to potshot Garcia in Round 5 with lead left hands. He followed up with some powerful right hands and started to truly sit down on those shots toward the end of Round 6.
“Tank” was in control in Round 8 when the fight was paused by the referee due to a dispute in the crowd at ringside. It was a highly unusually call from the official, who halted the action 58 seconds into the round, as Davis stopped fighting due to the ruckus. The action resumed after nearly a minute, and when it did, Davis finally found the fight-ending punch he was looking for.
A straight left hand immediately placed Garcia, 31, on wobbly legs. Davis capitalized with a series of blistering rights and lefts that led Garcia to retire on his stool moments later.
Davis said he was “a little surprised” Garcia didn’t come out for Round 9 “but knew he was hurt bad.”
“But he’s a fighter and he didn’t want to show it,” Davis said.
Now, Davis could move onto a 136-pound catchweight fight against Ryan Garcia that is among the biggest matchups in global boxing. But first, Davis will stand trial on Feb. 16 in Baltimore for his alleged involvement in a hit-and-run incident that took place in November 2020. Davis was accused of fleeing the scene of an accident that involved four people, including a pregnant woman. He faces 14 charges, including failure to immediately return and remain at the scene of an accident involving bodily injury.
According to the Baltimore City State Attorney’s Office, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge declined to approve a plea deal that would have avoided jail time in lieu of house arrest. The trial is expected to last two days.
Last week, Davis was arrested in South Florida after he allegedly struck a woman on the right side of her head with a “closed hand type slap,” according to police. He was charged with misdemeanor battery. Davis, who denied the allegations, referred to the woman as the mother of his daughter.
The woman later said that Davis “did not harm me or our daughter.” The arrest came 14 days after a domestic violence case was discharged stemming from a February 2020 incident where Davis was accused of striking the mother of his daughter on the campus of the University of Miami.
“I have to bring my people in close and listen to my close ones, listen to [PBC founder] Al Haymon and just stay focused,” said Davis, ESPN’s No. 3 lightweight. “There’s a lot of bumps in the road, but if we stay focused together, that’s how I’ll [maintain] longevity in the sport.”
Davis was fighting for the first time since a sixth-round TKO victory over Rolly Romero in May. Garcia, an Olympian from the Dominican Republic, broke out in 2022 with an upset win over Chris Colbert in February followed by a decision win over Roger Gutierrez in August to capture the WBA junior lightweight title. Garcia remains a titleholder at 130 pounds, where he’s rated No. 4 by ESPN.