As the fight progressed, and Cruz continued crowding him, Davis, a southpaw, used his straight left hand the way fighters use a jab, to halt Cruz’s forward progress and create space for more offense. Davis bounced several left-hand leads off Cruz’s forehead in the fifth, some more in the sixth and still more in the seventh.
Somewhere in that sequence, Davis said, he injured his left hand by cracking Cruz on the crown of his skull, the kind of impact that often leaves a fighter’s fist damaged even when encased in gauze, tape and eight-ounce gloves.
“He’s a shorter fighter,” Davis said of the 5-foot-4 Cruz. “I was throwing down, and I hit him on top of the head. I hit my knuckle and I messed it up. I couldn’t really throw it effective the whole fight.”
For his part, Cruz said he sensed midway through the fight that Davis had injured his left hand, even as Davis continued throwing it. He continued moving forward, throwing heavy body blows that left red marks on Davis’s torso.
Davis connected on 133 of 462 punches; Cruz landed 121 of 553.
“He hits hard, of course,” Cruz said at a news conference after the fight. “But that’s why we prepared the way we did. To handle it.”
From a competitive standpoint, a rematch is appealing. Both fighters are young, fast, aggressive and powerful. They delivered entertainment once, and Cruz, buoyed by his strong performance on Sunday, figures to have grown his following.
But Davis had a simple answer when asked about facing Cruz again.
“Hell no,” he said in the ring after the fight.