Gervonta Davis knocks Leo Santa Cruz out cold with uppercut in sixth round

Gervonta Davis walks away after knocking out Leo Santa Cruz during the sixth round Oct. 31, 2020, in San Antonio.
Gervonta Davis walks away after knocking out Leo Santa Cruz with an uppercut during the sixth round Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
(Ronald Cortes / Associated Press)

Gervonta Davis’ promoter, Floyd Mayweather Jr., sat next to his protégé inside his private plane and boasted about making $1 billion in boxing because he did things his way.

The plane, the Las Vegas mansion, the annual pay-per-view paydays, all of it could be Davis’ if he too did it his own way.

The crippling knockout that would end the night was all Davis, but the Mayweather plan from the very start couldn’t be suppressed.


Like his promoter did a generation prior, Davis walked to the ring Saturday night to face a Mexican fighter from Los Angeles. Like Mayweather did against Oscar De La Hoya, Davis wore a sombrero and the green, red and white of the Mexico flag on his trunks.

And like Mayweather, when put on the biggest stage of his young career, Davis delivered, detonating a left uppercut under Leo Santa Cruz’s chin in the sixth round, folding up the World Boxing Assn. junior lightweight champion like a chair in the corner of the ring.

“I’m a PPV star,” Davis said on his first pay-per-view broadcast. “… I don’t need to call anyone out. I’m the top dog.”

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He’s 24-0. He’s got 23 knockouts. And he’s got a partner who knows what it takes to stay undefeated while cashing in.

For just the fourth time in the last 80-plus years, belts from two weight classes were defended in the same fight and Davis, the knockout artist, walked out of the Alamodome in San Antonio with both of them.

Santa Cruz was in the way of so many Davis left-handed power shots, standing in and slugging with the pre-fight favorite.

In the buildup, Santa Cruz vowed to take Davis deep into the fight, to withstand punishment beyond the sixth round before dominating the second half.

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In his corner before the sixth, Santa Cruz’s team told him they were getting to the fulcrum point of the fight, the time when Davis would fatigue and Santa Cruz could push forward. All three judges had Santa Cruz down by one point on the scorecards.

His trainers asked for two more rounds. But Davis wouldn’t give Santa Cruz three minutes.

“When I hit him, I turned,” Davis said. “I knew he was out.”

The left uppercut caught Santa Cruz flush, a fastball off the barrel of the bat that led to some anxious moments before Santa Cruz recovered and returned to the back. He was taken to the hospital for observation.

“That was crazy, right?” said Davis, who retained his WBA lightweight championship. “I’m glad he’s good. I’m glad he got up.”

The Santa Cruz family has been through blows and gotten back up before. Santa Cruz’s father and part-time trainer, Jose, survived cancer and beat a coma-inducing fight with COVID-19 that forced him to ride to the ring next to his son in a motorized cart.

It would’ve been a storybook win. Instead, it was almost a nightmare ending for the former champ.

But for Davis — and Mayweather — it was a step toward a plan being realized, a big-ticket fighter who can work when he wants against whom he wants.

“I’m just happy for him. I know how he feels. I used to be that same kid sitting right there,” Mayweather said. “…If anybody can become that household name, this kid right here has all the skills.”