Gervonta Davis predicted he would knock out 130-pound champion Jose Pedraza, but was noncommittal on when the stoppage would occur, suggesting it could happen in “the eighth, nine or 10th round.” In the end, the 5-foot-6 “Tank” sold himself a little short.
After overpowering Pedraza (22-1, 12 KOs) for much of the fight, Davis (17-0, 16 KOs) finished off the Puerto Rican champion with a vicious right hook to the jaw late in the seventh round, earning a TKO victory.
By picking up his eight eight consecutive stoppage victory, the 22-year-old Davis claimed a world title in his first-ever championship opportunity. And while he more than earned that title with a dominant performance, he also got a lot of help from his opponent, who employed an odd strategy from the get-go in his third title defense.
Despite having a significant height and reach advantage, the 5-foot-8½ Pedraza chose to come out and pressure his smaller-but-stronger opponent with a come-forward style rather than box from the outside. Making matters worse, Pedraza—a naturally orthodox fighter who has the ability to switch-hit—decided to fight almost exclusively from a southpaw stance.
That game plan completely backfired, as Davis immediately took advantage of Pedraza’s aggression, repeatedly piercing his defense with pinpoint body shots and uppercuts with either hand as well as his overhand left.
Composed beyond his years, Davis flat-out punished Pedraza in the first three rounds, which the challenger swept on all three scorecards. Then in the fourth, when Pedraza raised both hands to his head, Davis went downstairs and hammered the body.
The undefeated champion did manage to gain some momentum toward the end of the fourth and carried it over to the fifth, when he increased his punch output significantly. But whatever momentum Davis lost he regained with a single punch early in the sixth: a left hook to the liver that caused Pedraza to double over.
Knowing he had his man hurt, Davis went on the attack while Pedraza went into survival mode, dropping his right arm to guard against another body shot. Somehow, Pedraza managed to get through the sixth, but it would be the last round he would finish.
Back firmly in control of the fight, Davis unleashed a vicious right hand to the jaw late in Round 7 that put Pedraza on his backside in a corner of the ring. Knocked down for the first time as a pro, Pedraza sat on the canvas until referee Ricky Gonzalez reached the count of nine, then made it to his feet.
However, Gonzalez quickly deemed Pedraza unfit to continue, waving an end to the fight—and Pedraza’s reign as champion—at the 2:36 mark.
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