By David Greisman
Gervonta Davis Stops Nunez in Two, Calls For Unification with Tevin Farmer
The fight itself wasn’t anything special, and yet it was still a special night for Gervonta Davis.
The 24-year-old was defending his junior lightweight world title against Ricardo Nunez, a competent but otherwise unknown fighter whose record of 21-2 with 19 knockouts didn’t include anyone anywhere near Davis’ level.
No one was clamoring for a fight between Davis and Nunez. And yet Davis packed in a huge, vocal crowd of 14,686 at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore.
This was his hometown showing up to support their first Baltimore-bred world titleholder in generations, a local who grew up in a tough part of town and had made something of himself, a talent who had only fought in Charm City once before — when he was just a kid with a 3-0 record — had performed several times down the road in and just outside of Washington, D.C., but was returning now as a star.
The star took his spotlight fight and gave his fans what they wanted, stopping Nunez with an explosive flurry in the second round.
The end came seemingly out of nowhere. The two fighters were in a clinch about halfway into the second round. But the referee hadn’t broken them up yet. Nunez made a cocky face, losing focus at what he wrongly thought was a safe moment. His chin was up and exposed. Davis pulled his arm free and turned into a huge left hook. Nunez was staggered, and Davis was still in perfect range to capitalize.
Davis followed up. Nunez capably dodged several of the shots but backed himself to the ropes. Nunez tried to throw a left hook. Davis’ left cross landed first, and emphatically so, popping Nunez’s head back above the ropes and buckling Nunez’s knees. Davis sent out another left, this one blocked, but landed a right hook and a hard left. Nunez teetered, and the referee jumped in.
Some might think the stoppage came a touch early, but it was also understandable — both in light of how Nunez’s entire body reacted when Davis landed cleanly, and also because of the two fighters who died from ring injuries over the past week, including one elsewhere in Maryland.
“Nunez got hit with a couple of big shots. I saw that he was defenseless and it was time to stop the fight,” said referee Harvey Dock, among one of the better third men in the ring these days, watching his performance in the replay alongside Showtime interviewer Jim Gray. “You see him get hit. I’m watching him defensively. And right there, his hands drop. It’s continuing. He was unable to defend himself there. I thought he was defenseless, and he is.”
Davis is now 22-0 with 21 knockouts. This was his second defense of the World Boxing Association world title he won about 15 months ago. He’d also previously held the International Boxing Federation belt, dropping it in August 2017 after coming in overweight for a fight.
The IBF belt now belongs to Tevin Farmer, a skilled boxer who is 30-4-1 with 6 KOs and better than those losses and low knockout ratio might otherwise indicate. Farmer and Davis have gone back and forth at each other on Twitter for some time. That’s as close as they’ve come to fighting. They’re signed with different promoters and featured on different networks.
Davis wants the fight and believes it can be made. Farmer fought on the DAZN streaming network at about the same time as Davis on Saturday night, winning a decision over Guillaume Frenois.
Farmer was asked about Davis afterward.
“He say he want me, but the people that’s behind him saying something else,” Farmer said. “Gervonta say he want Tevin Farmer. Leonard Ellerbe [of Mayweather Promotions] say ‘I’m going to move Gervonta the way I want to move Gervonta.’ Let’s read between the lines. Eddie [Hearn, who co-promotrs Farmer] has sent them multiple offers saying that Tevin Farmer want to fight, and there’s constantly excuses.
“I move forward from that fight. If it happen, it happen. If it don’t, I don’t give a damn. I want all the world champions out there. [Miguel] Berchelt. Jamel Herring. Who else? Gervonta Davis, but if I can’t make them fights, give me JoJo Diaz.”
Davis also has other options. Yuriorkis Gamboa has won four straight since losing by TKO to Robinson Castellanos in 2017. Gamboa was in the featured bout underneath Davis-Nunez, finishing faded former titleholder Roman Martinez in two rounds.
“I wanted a victory tonight so I can face Gervonta Davis next,” Gamboa said afterward. “That’s what I want.”
Jose Ramirez Unifies Titles With Sudden TKO of Maurice Hooker
What was a highly competitive battle between two top junior welterweights ended suddenly — and decisively — when Jose Ramirez hurt Maurice Hooker, followed up and scored an impressive technical knockout victory.
Ramirez unified two world titles in the process, cementing that he’s the best 140-pounder not currently competing in the World Boxing Super Series tournament. He awaits the winner of that tournament’s finale.
Ramirez came in with an undefeated record and a world title belt he’d won last year and defended twice since. Although he’s a big draw in Fresno, California, Ramirez traveled to Texas to basically fight in Hooker’s hometown — and fought on DAZN rather than Ramirez’s usual ESPN — to help get this fight made.
Hooker had also won his title last year and defended it twice. He is a lanky junior welterweight with good skills and power. This wasn’t going to be an easy fight for either man. But instead of coming out cautious, each fighter wanted to assert himself early and establish control.
Ramirez moved forward quickly from the opening bell, his legs tangling with Hooker’s. That was a preview of things to come. Hooker tried to establish distance with his long jab. Ramirez jumped in and Hooker went down. It was ruled a knockdown — wrongly. Ramirez had stepped on Hooker’s foot, and Hooker had lost his balance and gone down because of that, not because of any shot landing. Hooker protested, to no avail. Ramirez continued to exert pressure, landing left hooks to the body and head, following with a right hand upstairs.
Hooker dropped in a good right hand in the first round, and he continued to use distance — and Ramirez’s aggression — as the second round got underway, landing jabs and crosses from farther out while also catching an approaching Ramirez with counter hooks and right hands.
Hooker couldn’t keep Ramirez away, though. Ramirez pinned Hooker along the ropes and went to work. Hooker remained composed, blocking and dodging several shots, yet he ate plenty of others. Even if he took them fine, the judges would favor what Ramirez was doing.
So it was important in Round 3 when Hooker had Ramirez covering up as the result of body shots. The round was a competitive one, with the momentum swinging back and forth. Both fighters continued to land after the bell, unwilling to let the other get away with the last word. Hooker did a better job of controlling distance in Round 4, though Ramirez was able to score with a four-punch combination toward the end of the fourth.
Ramirez surged at the start of the fifth, unleashing combinations and getting Hooker back on the ropes. This time it was Hooker coming on strong toward the end of the round, digging to the body and later heading upstairs with a right hand and two left hooks.
This was looking like it was going to be an extended firefight. And then, like that, it was over.
The end came about halfway into Round 6. Both men jabbed and sent out right hands. But Ramirez followed up with a left hook that truly hurt Hooker for the first time, sending him staggering back to the ropes. Ramirez closed in, landing shot after shot to Hooker’s chin. Hooker’s gloves dropped, his head remained exposed. He was defenseless, and the referee rightly saved him and stopped the fight.
“I lost focus for a quick second. You see what happens when you lose focus for a quick second with a fighter like that,” Hooker said afterward.
Ramirez is now 25-0 with 17 knockouts. He awaits the winner of Regis Prograis vs. Josh Taylor, the WBSS finale, which will also produce a unified titleholder. If a bout can be made between Ramirez and whoever comes out triumphant, the junior welterweight division will once again have an undisputed world champion.
There were four vacant belts when the last undisputed champion, Terence Crawford, decided to head up to the welterweight division. A generation of young prospects and contenders stepped up. They’ve been able to show their talent. We’ve in essence had one official tournament and one unofficial one, with the fighters not involved in the WBSS facing off against each other. It’s been fun to watch. And there’s more still to come.
That means there are fighters who’ve been defeated along the way who would be good for Hooker (now 26-1-3 with 17 KOs) to try to bounce back against. Then again, it might also be time for him to consider moving up to welterweight. He needed several attempts to make 140 for a bout with Mikkel LesPierre earlier in the year.
There’s still plenty that can be done in this division — but there are several big names at 147, more opportunity plus seven pounds of relief at the scales.