It’s been not since 2016 since any fights from the District of Columbia made it to Showtime, or any network for that matter. Understandable, since the last was the disappointing Badou Jack versus Lucian Bute affair at the DC Armory in 2016. DC fight cards have been eclipsed by fights from Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, and others held across the Potomac at the MGM National Harbor for the last several years. So, it was a nice surprise to see Gervonta “Tank” Davis (28-0, 26 KOs) choose to take on Hector Luis Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs) at a large venue like the CapitalOne Arena. Overall, it was good, not great, night at the fights that still ended in stunning fashion.
Among the pay-per-view countdown fights there were a few standouts. Welterweight prospect Travon Marshall (7-0, 6 KOs) annihilated Shawn “The Exception” West (7-3-1, 4 KOs) with a blitz of body shots in 0:48 of the first round. Light welterweight Brandun Lee (27-0, 23 KOs) stopped Diego Ganzalo Luque (21-11-2, 10 KOs) in dominating fashion at 2:55 of the fourth round. Lee was initially pensive behind the jab, leading one enthusiastic fan to shout, “Stop bullshitting and get him the fuck out of here!” Finally, light middleweight Vito “White Magic” Mielnicki Jr (14-1, 9 KOs) continued his march back with a fourth-round stoppage of Omar Rosales (9-2-1, 5 KOs). Mielnicki clobbered Rosales with repeated left and right hooks to the head throughout the third round until dropping him shortly before the bell, then continued the hook assault until Rosales’s corner threw in the towel at 0:26 of the fourth.
Finally, came the televised pay-per-view fights heralded by “The Classy” Jimmy Lennon Jr. First up was former WBO light middleweight/middleweight champ Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs) moving up to super middleweight against Maryland fringe contender Demond Nicholson (26-5-1, 22 KOs). Andrade control the pace of the action easily, that is, until Nicholson surprised him in the fifth with a combo that dropped Andrade. Inexplicably this got ruled a slip by referee Malik Waleed. The sixth became a back-and-forth affair as each fighter landed telling shots on the other, punctuated with Nicholson taunting Andrade at the bell to fight. Taunting was all Nicholson seem to have from this point on, Andrade took complete control in the seventh and punctuated it with a second knockdown of Nicholson at the bell. Respect was earned, as the fighters hugged each other in the final round as Andrade took the unanimous decision (100-88 on all three cards) after dropping Nicholson for a third time.
Next, rising welterweight star “Speedy” Rashidi Ellis 25-0, 15 KOs) put in a somewhat boring showing against Venezuelan power puncher Roiman Villa (25-2, 24 KOs) that backfired on him. The first round saw Ellis largely fighting on the backfoot, letting Villa slam headshots into his gloves. The occasional trading of punches aside, this fight was largely Ellis shooting a single jab, then stepping back as Villa would swing and miss. Ellis would have Villa chase him from corner to corner while blocking punches. Repeat. It wasn’t until round nine that anything resembling a real fight occurred, as they finally traded hard and heavy with each other late. Then, in the tenth, Villa’s power really woke the crowd up as he finally managed to get through in a big way with overhand rights and combinations finding their mark. All Ellis could do was weather the storm from here on out. In the twelfth, Villa really poured it on, dropping Ellis in the first minute with a perfectly timed left hook that left Ellis looking shocked, then clobbered Ellis into the ropes for a second knockdown in the final seconds. Thankfully, that late surge gave Villa the edge as he won via majority decision (114 -112, 114-112, 113-113). Ellis may have thought his defense-first plan was this safest route to a potential title fight with IBF titlist Errol Spence, Jr., but it made for a mostly dull display that in the end cost him the fight.
Before the co-feature began Jimmy Lennon called a memorial ten-count for famed “action fighter’s referee” Steve Smoger, 35-year veteran judge Jerry Roth, and Gleason’s Gym trainer Hector Roca. Considering Jaron Ennis’s reputation for early knockouts, you wouldn’t have been foolish to think that his fight with Ukrainian Karen Chukhadzhian wouldn’t have lasted much longer than the ten-count. You would have been wrong though. Despite sporting a low KO percentage, Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs) seemed cautious and unwilling to trade with Chukhadzhian (21-1, 11 KOs) for the first several rounds of the fight. He tossed out jabs and danced around the ring much as Ellis had the previous fight. It wasn’t until round five that the two traded shots of substance, and it was clearly Ennis’s shots that were having the bigger effect. Chukhadzhian was having some success, but mostly it was Ennis rocking the Ukrainian round after round. Ennis ended up taking it unanimously 120-108 on all three the cards. Respect to Chukhadzhian for being able to stay in there with Ennis, but he did little more than show he could keep from getting knocked out by a career power puncher.
At last, it was time for Gervonta “Tank” Davis to come to the ring. Clearly the favorite coming in, Davis was expected to show spectacularly against a super featherweight titlist like Garcia coming up in weight. Davis did not disappoint…sort of. Climbing into the ring with police line tape stuck to his shoe, he played to the adoring crowd of 19,731 in attendance that roared every time his name was spoken. The opening two rounds were surprisingly uneventful as neither fighter threw much of substance. It wasn’t until the fourth when Garcia started pressing the action that Davis, in turn, came alive. They were trading blows, but Davis’s crushing upper cuts to the body and hooks to the head rocked Garcia. However, Garcia gave as good as he took, slowing Davis’s assault with vicious body shots as he would try to come in, taking the sixth round handily. The seventh was a real even war as they traded bombs until a scuffle in the crowd forced referee Earl Brown to call a time out until it could be dealt with. Round eight saw Davis truly unload on Garcia, bring the crowd to a fever pitch as the bell sounded while Garcia had to be directed to his corner while seemingly dazed. Garcia, it seemed, had had enough. Garcia’s corner stopped it 13 seconds into the start of the ninth, giving Davis the statement win he came for.
Davis takes this big win with him a mandate for his potential grudge match fight with light welterweight star Ryan Garcia. A fight that’s been in banded around since a scuffle that has been drummed up in social media circles, it should prove a cracker of a fight. That is, if it they can agree to make a fight both people are clamoring to see and the fighters say they want. That, sadly in boxing, is something any fan knows is much easier said than done.