For Baltimore boxer Gervonta Davis, the good news was that he won his bout against Francisco Fonseca on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor mega-fight Aug. 26 in Las Vegas.
The bad news was, well, just about everything else regarding what was supposed to be a showcase for the 22-year old former 130-pound International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion from West Baltimore.
Even though Davis advanced to 19-0 (18 KOs) against Fonseca, he is no longer a title-holder. The day before the fight, he missed weight coming in at 132, two pounds over the allowable limit. So when Davis and Fonseca entered the ring at the T-Mobile Arena, the weight-class championship was vacant. Fonseca, because he had successfully made weight, was eligible for the title if he had won.
However, losing the title due to weight wasn’t the end of Davis’ difficulties.
Performing in front of worldwide audience of tens of millions who paid hefty pay-per-view fees to watch Mayweather stop McGregor in 10 rounds, Davis failed to impress.
His performance against Fonseca, who was fighting for the first time in the United States and is now 19-1-1, ranged from awkward to boorish, drawing criticism from broadcast analysts. And Davis' finishing blow against Fonseca that ended in an eighth-round knockout resulted in a chorus of boos from the crowd because of a left-hand shot on the back of the Costa Rican’s head.
At the time of the knockout, Davis was clearly ahead on all three judges’ scoring cards – despite a shabby showing – but the post-fight talk was almost exclusively about the last flurry of punches.
Just before the controversial blow, Davis had landed a typical, and possibly effective, body combination but Fonseca was still upright in a defensive posture.
Then came the controversial punch: a sweeping left that connected with the back of Fonseca’s shoulder-neck-head area and sent him to his knees holding onto Davis' waist. Davis pushed away Fonseca who stayed on his knees holding his head as the referee counted him out.
When Davis was announced as the winner, the crowd booed leaving Davis with a quizzical expression on his usually smiling face.
In a post-fight interview with sportscaster Jim Gray, Davis went through the final punches step-by-step while looking at a replay.
"Right here, boom-boom, that’s the body shot," Davis said of the combination that he contends did the real damage to Fonseca.
"Now he took advantage of this punch right here," Davis continued, apparently implying that Fonseca was exaggerating the effect of the back-of-the-head contact.
At that point, the crowd groaned.
Asked about whether the punch was legal, Davis said, "I don’t think it was illegal but I know it had no effect on him. I know for sure it didn’t."
Fonseca couldn’t wait to tell his side.
"I know that it was an illegal blow," he said immediately through an interpreter.
Fonseca said he wanted a rematch.
The Costa Rican fighter said the previous punches, which Davis insisted did the real damage, were not a problem.
"He doesn’t hit as hard as they say he hits," he said of Davis.
Leading to the eighth round, the night was not at all representative of Davis’ past impressive showings.
He entered the ring wearing a fuzzy blue hoodie that drew more than one comparison to the muppet Cookie Monster. He also wore matching fuzzy blue trim on his shorts.
After a lackluster first three rounds, Davis decided to showboat in the fourth round putting his hands behind his back daring Fonseca to come at him and at one point theatrically pretended to be groggy.
In the seventh round, Davis' feet got tangled with Fonseca’s leg and that allowed Fonseca to land a meaningful left hand.
In the eighth round, Davis came out finally looking like he was serious and showing sound boxing skills when the controversial end came 39 seconds into the round.
Davis was apologetic about missing weight and having to relinquish his 130-pound title belt.
"It was a mistake. I’m young, I’m growing. I apologize … it will never happen again," he said.
There were reports that Davis was ill during the week before the fight but if true, he refused to use that as an excuse for failing to make weight.
Davis did say he wants to reclaim his title announcing to potential opponents, "All the 130s, the 135s, I’m coming back for my belt."