Friday, January 1, 2016

HOWARD DAVIS JR.


  Howard Davis Jr. is generally regarded as one of the greatest United States Amateur boxers of all time.  After amassing a record of 125-5 including an amateur World Championship in 1974, AAU Championships, wins over Thomas Hearns and Aaron Pryor, and a gold medal at the 1976 Olympic games, and the Val Barker award as the most outstanding boxer of those games, Davis turned professional on Jan. 15, 1977 with a shutout unanimous decision victory over 81 fight veteran Jose Resto.

   Davis was considered a "can't miss" prospect right out of the gate and after 12 fights as a pro he was 12-0, 5 by ko, and had already faced and defeated world ranked contenders like Arturo "Turi" Pineda, Jose Fernandez, Norman Goins, and Maurice "Termite" Watkins.  Feb. 23, 1980 saw Davis in his biggest test as he faced world ranked Vilomar Fernandez (24-6-2, 7 ko) who had challenged Roberto Duran for the WBA Lightweight title 3 years earlier.  It was a struggle, but despite being knocked down in the 2nd round, Davis got off the floor to score a unanimous decision victory on scores of 114-113, 115-113, and 118-112.

   About 4 months later, Davis got his shot at the WBC Lightweight Title.  He had to travel to Glasgow, Scotland to face the reigning champion Jim Watt (36-7, 26 ko).  It was a close 15 round battle, but when the scores were announced, Davis had suffered his first defeat as a professional and failed to bring home the title belt on scores of 144-145, 144-147, and 142-149.

   It was a tough setback, but the confident Davis continued to campaign, and his reputation did not allow him any easy fights.  He ran off another string of 13 consecutive victories, scoring wins against top notch competion including:  Johnny Lira (20-1-1, 12), Claude Noel (29-4,17), Tony Baltazar (22-0-1, 18), and Greg "Candy Man" Coverson (33-1, 20).

Davis in his 2nd attempt at a world title against Edwin "Chapo" Rosario in Puerto Rico
    The impressive 4 year undefeated run paid off and on June 23, 1984 Howard was rewarded with another shot at a world title belt, but this time he would have to travel to Puerto Rico and face one of the hottest young champions on the scene Edwin "Chapo" Rosario (23-0, 21 ko) who was making his 3rd defense of the WBC Lightweight title.  It went 12 full rounds but the scorecards went in favor of the champion Rosario by scores of 115-114 and 117-113 for Rosario, and 1 Judge seeing it 114-113 for the challenger.  Howard Davis was now 26-2, 11 ko and still seeking that elusive world title.

   Davis went right back to work and put together a 9 fight performance that included wins over Bobby Johnson (21-3) and Othal "Choo Choo" Dixon (18-1), losses to Joe Manley (23-3-1), and Hector "Macho" Camacho (30-0), and a draw against undefeated fellow Olympic Gold Medalist Meldrick Taylor (12-0).

   Another impressive run deserves another shot at the world title, and this time Davis had to face another red hot champion - fellow New Yorker - James Buddy McGirt (37-1-1, 32 ko) at the Felt Forum in NYC.  Davis was called on short notice after Meldrick Taylor was injured in training and unable to challenge McGirt.  In what turned out to be the last 15 round bout ever scheduled in the United States, Howard Davis was shockingly knocked down and out with just 15 seconds to go in the first round of the bout.

    Davis pressed on and won 4 more bouts finishing his career with one final shot at a World Title Belt.  April 13, 1996 at age 40, Howard Davis challenged undefeated Dana Rosenblatt (27-0, 20 ko) for the WBU Middleweight World Title.  Rosenblatt overpowered Davis and knocked him out in round 2.  This was Howard Davis' last pro bout.

   Howard Davis was always one of my personal favorites, and even though he didn't have an iron chin, or 1 punch knockout power, and came up on the short end of 4 attempts at a world title, his smooth boxing skills, glorious amateur career, and winning pro boxing career made him a legend in the sport.  He finished with a pro record of:  36 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw, with 14 knockouts.

Howard Davis Jr.: Entire Pro Ledger

If you would like to have Howard Davis' boxing matches on DVD, I have the following bouts available:

1. ARTURO "Turi" PINEDA               [tko-4]
2. JOSE HERNANDEZ                      [ko-7]
3. CLAUDE NOEL                            [w-10]
4. TONY BALTAZAR                       [w-10]
5. GREG COVERSON                      [tko-8]
6. EDWIN "Chapo" ROSARIO          [L-12] {WBC Light Title}
7. JOE MANLEY                              [L-10]
8. OTHEL "Choo Choo" DIXON      [w-10] (Rds. 1-6 ONLY)
9. HECTOR CAMACHO SR.          [L-10]
10. JAMES BUDDY MCGIRT         [ko-by-1] {IBF Jr. Welter Title}
11. DANA ROSENBLATT              [ko-by-2] {WBU Middle Title}(*Howard Davis' LAST Pro Bout)

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