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HITS and MISSES on the Final Weekend of 2019

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  • HITS and MISSES on the Final Weekend of 2019

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    By Kelsey McCarson

    There wasn’t a ton of action available to consume over the last weekend of 2019, so all eyes were turned toward Showtime to witness undefeated two-time junior lightweight titleholder Gervonta Davis take on Cuban slugger Yuriorkis Gamboa in a hotly anticipated lightweight bout for a secondary world title.

    Davis, 25, from Baltimore, knocked the 38-year-old Gamboa down three times on his way to a one-sided 12th-round stoppage in front of a raucous crowd on Saturday night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

    The undercard was solid with elder statesmen Jean Pascal defeating Badou Jack via split decision in an important light heavyweight scrap, and Lionell Thompson winning a 10-round decision over former IBF titleholder Jose Uzcategui at super middleweight.

    Here are the biggest HITS and MISSES from Showtime’s Davis-Gamboa card.

    HIT: The Superstar Potential of Gervonta Davis

    He wins fights. He sells tickets. He knocks people out. What more could you really want from Davis at this point in his career?

    Sure, headed into Saturday night most people thought that Davis would stop the talented but diminished former featherweight champion in short order. Davis knocked Gamboa down all around the ring in Atlanta, but it took 12 rounds to score the stoppage.

    But since when do we knock fighters like Davis for moving up in weight to dominate former champions like Gamboa? And how could it happen here after seeing the brave effort Gamboa put forth, one in which the fighter suffered a serious leg injury in the second round?

    Davis truly appears to be on his way to becoming one of the very best fighters in the sport. His explosive ferocity and incredible ability to outslug dangerous punchers are just a couple of the things that will help him make him a huge draw in the sport.

    Still just 25, Davis might not win every single fight exactly the way we think he should. But he’s very much on his way to becoming whatever he can ultimately be and it sure looks like he can become something really special.

    MISS: Unsorted Issues That Might Hold Davis Back

    Now that Davis has been praised as one of the best and brightest lights in all of boxing, it’s important to note something that the fighter and his handlers absolutely should turn their eyes toward moving forward.

    On Friday, Davis missed the 135-pound lightweight limit by 1.2 pounds. He was given two additional hours to make weight, and he came back to the scale 134.8 pounds.

    The crisis was averted, but something is amiss when a fighter like Davis moves up to a new weight class for the first time in his career and still needs two more hours to get the job done on the scale.

    That something is very likely some kind of order missing from his life. Fighters, after all, almost always have to fight their way up out of difficult and potentially disordered situations.

    It’s a huge part of what makes us identify with them.

    But it’s important for potential superstar athletes like Davis to grow and learn along the way. For him to reach his absolute potential as a prizefighter, he’ll definitely need to sort through all the little things that could end up holding him back.

    Because little things grow into big things when left unchecked.

    HIT: Showtime Streaming Elite Undercard Action on YouTube

    Showtime might find itself in some pretty deep trouble during the coming years as far as boxing goes.

    But considering how far the once-mighty network has fallen in comparison to the rising triad of new competitors Fox Sports, ESPN and DAZN, credit should be given to the executives over at Showtime for not going down without a fight.

    People sometimes forget, but Showtime was a true innovator in regards to using YouTube to stream important fights from around the world. Again, it appears the New York-based media giant innovated in the space again on Saturday night when it offered some pretty elite undercard fights via YouTube before the start of the Davis-Gamboa card on Showtime.

    Junior welterweight Malik Hawkins fifth-round stoppage of fellow prospect Darwin Price and junior featherweight up-and-comer Angelo Leo’s eleventh-round demolition of former titleholder challenger Cesar Juarez were a cut above as far as undercard fights go.

    In fact, on their own, these two contests seemed more like a solid “ShoBox: The Next Generation” card than undercard bouts.

    Instead, these important fights were streamed live and free via YouTube. Sure, it might not be the kind of thing that ultimately wins the war for Showtime, but it’s at least something to help keep them in the game headed into 2020.

    MISS: Badou Jack’s Late Starts in Big Fights

    Badou Jack is a real throwback fighter. He’s smart. He’s resilient. He’s crafty. Those things and more have served him well over the course of his career, and he should absolutely be commended for them.

    But how many big fights has Jack stormed back over the second half only to see the victory slip away from him at the very last moment?

    After suffering the split-decision loss to Pascal on Saturday, it’s happened at least four times now. Lucien Bute, James DeGale, Adonis Stevenson and now Pascal have all seen the best version of Jack only emerge after he fell behind. Jack is now 1-1-2 across those four, with the only victory in the group coming after Bute failed a PED drug test to overturn the judges’ draw to a commission-issued disqualification.

    Maybe Jack just happens to fight in the wrong era? Imagine how effective the 36-year-old might have been during the era of 15 rounders?

    Or maybe this guy just starts too late too often and has never really taken any steps to correct it.

    HIT: Boxing Channel Alum Ray Flores and Steve Farhood

    If you watched Showtime’s YouTube stream featuring Hawkins-Price and Leo-Juarez, you heard the action being called by Boxing Channel alumnus Ray Flores and Steve Farhood.

    Flores and Farhood make a great team. Flores has a golden voice for play-by-play duties, and it’s the kind that can’t be taught. People are either born with it or they aren’t, and Flores was. Moreover, he’s been one of the most underrated people in our sport for a long while. It’s great to see him finally get so much work.

    Pairing him with Farhood made for some good watching. The Hall of Famer is one of the most influential, knowledgeable and respected figures in the sport and one of the best journalists of the last half-century.

    Perhaps the most impressive thing to me was that they were calling the fights so far away from ringside. That’s something that happens in boxing on occasion, but it almost always doesn’t work.

    In this case, it did, thanks to Flores and Farhood, two of the best callers of action in the sport today.

    Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel