Last weekend’s clash was set up to be Gervonta Davis’ Arrival Party. His oppponent, Jose Pedraza, boasted his own undefeated record, along with an alphabet-soup “world title.” It was all lined up for him to become a rising star in a talented division, at only 22 years of age.
Pedraza was just enough of an obstacle to make the fight interesting. His IBF super featherweight title was short of legitimate. He had claimed it by defeating Andrey Klimov in June 2015, after it was vacated by Rances Barthelemy’s move up to 135 pounds. There is no logic-based reason why the IBF should have deemed Pedraza and Klimov the top two fighters in the world at 130 pounds, the winner worthy of their championship recognition.
Pedraza should have lost the title in his first defense, to Edner Cherry, but instead escaped via split decision. Pedraza had a lot to gain last weekend, as well. A win over Davis would not have legitimized his belt, but it would have established him as a top-five fighter in the weight class.
I expected Davis to win. But an experienced, undefeated opponent with a lot to lose and even more to gain should never be taken for granted. Everything was set up for Davis to shine, but it didn’t necessarily look like it should be easy.
Pedraza came out fighting with aggression, determined to keep his belt. For five rounds, the fight was competitive. But Davis’ speed and power advantages were evident. Pedraza had the heart, perhaps, but not the physical tools to compete with the fighter they appropriately call Tank. Davis drilled him with a brutal body shot in Round 6 and Pedraza was unable to recover, failing to make it to the end of the round.
Beating good fighters with ease is one sign of a great fighter. It is still a bit to early to call Davis great, but he is heading in that direction. He should be a fun fighter to watch in the next few years.