The young champion boxers of today are rock stars like no others. Gervonta Davis vs Hugo Ruiz was a title fight for the Super Featherweight Championship February 9th at the Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly the Stubhub Center.) Starting with the first press conference of undercard fighters, we already know what a show this is going to be.
It seems certain boxers support each other and come to the press conferences not only to support their fellow athletes, but to assist with the chaos. Showtime Boxing sets up the ambiance. From the official ring announcers, referees, and commissioners, to the DJ playing all the top hip hop jams, nothing is skipped. In a 2000 square foot room, 200 feet are slammed with thirsty journalists half an inch away from the boxers face.
After the hype and all the query of what this fight means to the boxers, the unexpected is always to be expected. The original opponent of Gervonta Davis was three division world title champion Abner Mares. One week before the fight, Abner Mares announced he had a detached retina. His new opponent, Hugo Ruiz 39-5 is a Mexican boxer who just won his last three fights. 2018 was a good year for Ruiz, but he had not boxed professionally the entire year of 2017. He’s 5 inches taller and six years older than his east coast opponent.
Davis or the “Tank” as they call him, is 21-0 and managed by Leonard Ellerbe the CEO of Mayweather Promotions. Tank is a soft spoken boxer with few words to utter. My guess is he prefers to speak in the ring. He is astonishing to look at, tiny in stature, and covered in quality tattoos. Gervonta is an American boxer from Maryland and a two time super featherweight world champion. On this night, he was to defend his title that he’s held since 2018. Davis has been a boxer since he was 5 years old.
Davis demonstrates an extravaganza everywhere he goes, with an entourage no doubt. His fight was a sold out show to 8k fans suffering the bitter cold of an outdoor arena with no playback monitors. The east coast fans were there for their boy by the droves. It was 48 degrees out and the east coast female fans were hot to trot suffering flights of bleachers in heels and freezing their emphasized body parts with no coats or jackets to cover their sparkly cocktail dresses.
The Los Angeles fans had coats, scarves, beanies, blankets and gloves. Behaving as expected, Davis walked out to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with choreographed dancers, pyrotechnics, fog, and spectacular lighting. Ruiz, came out to traditional banda music, sans the bells and whistles. Although Davis is the American fighter, Ruiz, a Mexican national, fights out of Los Angeles. At the round one bell the fans started chanting “ MEXICO! MEXICO!”
From Hugo Ruiz, “He felt very heavy to me, very heavy handed. As soon as he started landing punches, I could feel them. I have a lot of first round knockouts, today was my turn to lose in the first round. It happens in boxing. I surely have a fractured nose. Im looking forward to going down to 126 and look for another opportunity down there.” The Tank broke Hugos nose one minute and some odd seconds into the first round. From the referee Jack Reiss: “Ruiz didn’t answer me. I told him clearly in the dressing room what he needed to do. When I asked him in Spanish if he wanted to continue he didn’t answer. He was really hurt. He basically made the decision. If he just nodded his head, we would have kept going.”
First round knockouts are not uncommon for the Tank. What a pay day. This was short and sweet, and with the not so sweet elements, I think it’s safe to say we all wished for a more interesting fight. It was a last minute change of opponent, a change in venue (early on it was set for San Diego) bad weather, and an under two minute fight. The lackluster energy at the quasi post fight press conference indicates I may not have been the only one to have felt this way.
The distance gone, the cost of parking, exorbitant concession prices. It all makes you think would it be more enjoyed on PPV? The answer is yes. But no one wants to see an empty arena. The solution seems uncomplicated. We have better venues in Los Angeles. Let’s use them! Davis said, “I’m very confident that I will be more active this year. I have three, probably four fights lined up this year. I’m happy with my team and I’m ready for the next.” “Yes sir, we’re coming to Baltimore. We’re going home baby!” L.A. looks forward to welcoming him back. Congratulations to the champ on his undefeated record!