Gervonta Davis came out on top after delivering a highlight reel sixth round knockout to add his old WBA (Super) Super Featherweight title to his WBA Lightweight belt, with the two belts on the line at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Davis (24-0, 23 KOs) came to the ring in traditional Mexican attire, much in the mould of his promoter, Floyd Mayweather Jr, when he defeated Oscar De La Hoya back in 2007, and when the action commenced, he was straight down to business off a rapid jab, and was timing Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19 KOs) early on with straight left hands.
The pair looked razor-sharp as the Mexican visitor went to the body of Davis and landed with a right hand that snapped the head back of the Baltimore man in what was a thrilling first frame.
Santa Cruz unloaded a variety of shots in round two, but ’Tank’ was seamlessly able to evade most of them in a much quieter round.
Davis’ counter punching was especially impressive, as he timed his opponent with crisp lefts, with the four-weight world champion sporting a cut on the bridge of his nose in the third.
The two opened up in the fourth, with Santa Cruz landing big right hands, but Davis was able to counter with big hits of his own, a peach of a left uppercut the highlight in what was frantic action.
The fifth was a much quieter affair, but was just a precursor to the finish of the contest, which Davis delivered in devastating fashion.
Santa Cruz started the sixth well enough, landing with hard combinations, but the suffered a low blow midway through the session.
This fired up the 32-year-old and there was an absorbing exchange, which Santa Cruz looked like he was getting the better of until Davis uncorked a monster left uppercut that left his foe motionless upon impact.
After several worrying minutes, Santa Cruz got to his feet and thankfully came around, as Davis became the first man to stop the Mexican warrior.
The 25-year-old was bullish about the future, and was happy with his standout performance.
“The uppercut wasn’t the key, but I adapted it to what he was bringing,” Davis told Showtime post-fight.
“He’s a guy that punches but doesn’t get out of the way after, and I adapted to that.
“He’s a tough warrior and he came to fight”.
“I’m willing to fight anyone, I’m not ducking or dodging anyone. I’ll face whoever my team comes up with. I’m a pay-per-view star, and I’m number one. I’m the top dog, line them up and I’ll knock them down one by one.”
Prograis back with a bang against Heraldez
On the undercard, Regis Prograis returned to action for the first time since his loss to Josh Taylor in the World Boxing Super Series final, with a dominant third round stoppage of the previously undefeated, Juan Heraldez at Super Lightweight.
A big left hand dropped the 30-year-old in round three, and he never truly recovered, and on the resumption, Prograis (25-1, 21 KOs) poured the pressure on, as Heraldez (16-1-1, 10 KOs) tottered around the ring.
After pinning his man on the ropes, ‘Rougarou’ unloaded with power shots that forced the referee to step in, with Heraldez halted for the first time.
Barrios successfully defends WBA crown
Mario Barrios defended his WBA ‘Regular’ Super Lightweight belt, with a sixth round stoppage of Ryan Karl in an all-Texas clash.
Barrios (26-0, 17 KOs) dropped Karl (18-3, 12 KOs) early in the sixth session, when a big straight right hand landed, forcing the 28-year-old to touch the canvas with his glove to steady himself.
Karl sustained a nasty cut to his forehead and that was Barrios’ cue to apply the pressure, buzzing the challenger with several straight shots.
The ringside doctor approved Karl to continue, and he went out on his shield, trading punches with Barrios until a big left hand crumpled him to the canvas, where the count was dispensed with.
Cruz destroys Magdaleno in a round
In a fight that was tipped to be a tight affair and last the distance, Isaac Cruz took less than a round and a minute to destroy Diego Magdaleno to win their IBF Lightweight title eliminator.
Magdaleno (32-4, 13 KOs) was down within the first 30 seconds, on the wrong end of a fire-fight on the ropes, with Cruz (20-1-1, 15 KOs) landing a jarring short right hand that put Magdaleno on his backside.
The action resumed and again the 34-year-old decided to trade leather to his cost, as he walked onto two right uppercuts that dropped him to the bottom rope and the fight was waved off.
Lightweight: Michel Rivera (19-0, 12 KOs) UD10 Ladarius Miller (21-2, 6 KOs) (97-93, 97-93 & 97-93)
Lightweight: Julian Rodarte (18-0-1, 7 KOs) UD8 Jose Morales (8-9, 2 KOs)
Lightweight: Anthony Cuba (1-0, 1 KO) TKO3 Leon Cavalli (1-2, 1 KO)