Junior lightweight world titlist Gervonta "Tank" Davis didn't get to add the big name to his record that he had hoped to, but he nonetheless took care of business and did so in violent fashion in the first round against late replacement Hugo Ruiz on Saturday night at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Davis, a Floyd Mayweather protégé, was supposed to make the first defense of his second 130-pound title reign against popular three-division world titlist Abner Mares on his turf in Southern California, but Mares withdrew from the fight last week after suffering a detached retina in his right eye during a sparring session and then had surgery.
Ruiz, a former junior featherweight world titleholder who had just won a lopsided decision in a featherweight bout on Jan. 19 on the Manny Pacquiao-Adrien Broner undercard, quickly accepted an offer to fill in and moved up another weight division with the promise to give Davis a serious fight in the Showtime-televised main event.
Ruiz didn't come close to doing so, as Davis -- a fast southpaw with explosive power -- walked to the ring to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and then walked through Ruiz with ease before a crowd of 8,048.
"I just wanted to put on a great performance," Davis said. "I was scheduled to fight Abner Mares, but he had an injury, so my main goal was to make a great performance, which I did."
Although the 5-foot-9 Ruiz held a 3½-inch height advantage over Davis, he was no match for Davis' speed and power. Davis (21-0, 20 KOs), 24, of Baltimore, took it to Ruiz late in the opening round and drove him to the corner with a straight left hand.
With Mayweather watching at ringside, Davis followed up with a three-punch combination -- right, left and a right hook that slammed into Ruiz's face. Ruiz took a step back and dropped to a knee. With blood streaming from his nose, Ruiz (39-5, 33 KOs), 32, of Mexico, rose at the count of eight; but referee Jack Reiss, after taking a good look at Ruiz, waved the fight off at 2 minutes, 59 seconds.
"I knew it was coming," said Davis, who earned $1 million to Ruiz's $100,000. "When I touched him with the jab, I saw his arm was in front of his face, so if I threw a hook or uppercut, it was right in line."
Reiss said he stopped the fight because Ruiz failed to respond to him.
"Ruiz didn't answer me. I told him clearly in the dressing room what he needed to do," Reiss said. "When I asked him, 'Can you continue?' in Spanish, he kind of just looked down and wouldn't answer. And he was really hurt. That nose [was] broken earlier, and then got hit on it again. He basically made the decision. If he just [nodded his head], we would have kept going."
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Davis landed 11 of 56 punches (20 percent), and Ruiz landed only 3 of 19 (16 percent).
"He felt very heavy to me, very heavy handed," Ruiz said through a translator. "As soon as he started landing punches, I could feel them. I have a lot of first-round knockouts. Today was my turn to lose in the first round. It happens in boxing. I surely have a fractured nose. I'm looking forward to go down to 126 [pounds] and look for another opportunity down there."
The fight was Davis' first in 10 months, as he had boxed only once in 2018 because of legal issues and problems with Mayweather Promotions. Davis also had been stripped of a world title in 2017 for failing to make weight. He has vowed to get back on track this year and to be busy and stay out of trouble. He likely will return to Baltimore for a homecoming fight this summer.
"I'm very confident that I will be more active this year," Davis said. "I have three, probably four fights lined up this year. I'm happy with my team, and we move on to the next [fight]. We're coming to Baltimore. We're going home, baby."
Barrios stops Zamora
In the co-feature, junior welterweight prospect Mario Barrios notched a fourth-round stoppage of Richard Zamora.
They put on an action-packed fight, but Barrios was the bigger, stronger fighter. And it showed in the fourth round, when Barrios (23-0, 15 KOs), 23, of San Antonio, landed numerous clean shots in an extended attack on Zamora, including a big uppercut.
Zamora took everything and stayed on his feet -- and even got in a couple of solid shots in return -- but Barrios continued to pound away until referee Ray Corona stepped in and stopped the fight at 2 minutes, 16 seconds.
"It was an amazing fight. I tip my hat to Zamora. He's a hell of a warrior," Barrios said. "I wish him nothing but the best for the rest of his career. Like he said at the press conference, he wanted a war, and I brought it to him. Total respect to him. He wasn't an easy target at all. We just used everything we worked on in camp to find my range."
According to CompuBox, Barrios landed 106 of 282 punches (38 percent), and Zamora connected with 27 of 137 (20 percent).
Zamora (19-3, 12 KOs), 25, of Mexico, took the fight on short notice. He was scheduled to fight Logan Yoon on Showtime's "ShoBox" card on Feb. 1, but Yoon pulled out with a knee injury a few days before the fight, so Zamora was ready to go when he got the call to face Barrios.
Barrios, who is trained by Virgil Hunter and spent time sparring with Amir Khan to prepare, won his seventh fight in a row by knockout.
Zamora, who was fighting outside of Mexico for the first time, saw a five-fight winning streak come to an end.
Fortuna edges Bogere
Former junior lightweight titlist Javier Fortuna won a unanimous decision over Sharif Bogere in a sloppy lightweight fight. All three judges scored the bout 96-93, with each judge scoring each round identically.
It was a messy fight from the outset, with their styles not meshing at all. There was a lot of holding and head-butting that kept referee Edward Collantes busy breaking them up.
In the sixth round, Fortuna was credited with a knockdown, though it appeared to have been initiated by a right hand way behind Bogere's head. An accidental head-butt in the sixth round left both fighters rattled and opened a cut over Bogere's right eye.
"[The knock down] was correct," Fortuna said. "I saw his eyes were a little glassy and his legs buckled a bit. When I saw that he was cut, the game plan changed again and we had to work again to attack the cut."
According to CompuBox, Fortuna landed 101 of 421 punches (24 percent), and Bogere connected with 104 of 613 shots (17 percent).
Fortuna (34-2-1, 23 KOs), 29, of the Dominican Republic, was fighting for the first time since a June bout against Adrian Granados that was ruled a no decision when Fortuna was injured after he accidentally fell out of the ring in the fourth round.
Bogere (32-2, 20 KOs), 30, a native of Uganda fighting out of Las Vegas, came into the fight 9-0 with a no contest since losing a unanimous decision to Richar Abril in a lightweight world title bout in 2013.
"I think I won the fight. Even the knockdown was bull," Bogere said. "He kept coming at me with the head. He kept trying to head-butt me. The challenge was that there was blood in my eye. The first couple of rounds, I was boxing him easily. I would give myself a seven out of 10. The head-butt bothered me, and I wasn't able to perform as well as I wanted."
Lubin sends Smith into retirement
Junior middleweight Erickson Lubin (20-1, 15 KOs) looked very sharp in a third-round destruction of former world titlist Ishe Smith (29-11, 12 KOs), who announced his retirement after the fight.
Lubin knocked Smith down four times in the one-sided victory, fulfilling his promise to be the first opponent to stop Smith. Lubin dropped him three times in the second round and once in the third round, before Smith elected not to continue following the round.
"I wanted to start off calm and poised. I was using my jab like my corner was telling me to, but he wasn't throwing anything so I had to mix up my shots," Lubin said. "I thought he was trying to get me into the later rounds. I hit hard. I saw that one of my shots shook him up and he dropped. I am a great finisher and I knew it was time to get him out of there. After the second time dropping him, I thought maybe he was a little shaken up, because veteran fighters are capable of recuperating easily when they are hurt."
Lubin, 23, of Orlando, Florida, the 2016 ESPN.com prospect of the year, won his second fight in a row since a shocking, first-round knockout loss to Jermell Charlo in a junior middleweight world title bout in October 2017.
Smith, 40, of Las Vegas, lost his third fight in a row, though in his previous two defeats he gave Julian "J Rock" Williams and Tony Harrison very tough fights.
"Trust me this game won't get the best of me, I'm done," Smith wrote on social media after the bout. "I did it my way, going out on my terms. It was a great shot I never seen, never recovered either, no excuses from this end. Young man's game, 19 years is a storybook for me. I can bow out gracefully."