Forgotten Legends: Aaron Davis

By: Steve Gallegos

The world of boxing can be both beautiful and cruel. When the lights are bright and the heat is turned up, a fighter needs to dig deep to ride out the storm. This was the case for former welterweight champion AaronSupermanDavis. Davis was an all action boxer-puncher who had tremendous heart and was willing to dig as deep as he needed to win a boxing match. He was a fan favorite for most of the 1990’s with his all action style.

Davis was born and raised in the Bronx, NY and he trained at the famed Gleason’s Gym. As an amateur, he would win the New York Golden Gloves tournament in the welterweight divison. He would turn pro in May of 1996 and would go 29-0 with 17 KO’s over the next four years; fighting mostly in Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum. He would get his first crack at world title in 1990 when he faced former five-time New York Golden Gloves champion and 1984 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, Mark Breland.

There was a lot of bad blood leading into this fight and it became a New York turf war as it was Brooklyn (Breland) vs the Bronx (Davis). They met on 07/08/90 at Harrah’s Resort and Casino in Reno, NV and it was for the WBA Welterweight Championship. The bout was also televised on ABC’s Wide World Of Sports, which was during a time when boxing was frequently shown on network television.

In the first round, Breland used his height and excellent left jab to good effect. Davis, as many Breland opponents, was looking to get inside that akward guard. Halfway through the round, Davis was able to get inside and would land a huge left hand that staggered Breland. Davis would apply the pressure for the remainder of the round and made a statement early, showing Breland that he meant business.

Both men would have success in an action packed second round in which both men were staggered. Davis however was finding his range with his left jab and it was working to good effect against the very skillful Mark Breland. Davis‘ pace began to slow in the third and Breland was using his jab to put together combinations, however in the last 15 seconds of the round, Davis would land a hard left hook that staggered Breland once again. Seconds later Davis put Breland on the canvas to close out the round.

Round four was another exciting round as Davis continued to press foward landing hard left hand shots. The faces of both men were starting to show the effects of this fight. Breland’s nose was a mess and his mouth was bleeding. Davis‘ right eye was swelling and a cut had opened up beneath the eye. Referee Mills Lane even called “Time” to have the doctor inspect Davis‘ eye.

Rounds 5-7 were fought at a much slower pace as Davis‘ right eye was getting worse and Breland targeted that right eye by landing his left jab. Davis would come out throwing bombs to start the eighth round and he staggered Breland once again, forcing him up against the ropes. Davis knew that time was running out in this fight and he began landing hard left hooks and uppercuts.

Breland would rally back in the second half of the round as he too staggered Davis with hard combinations. Davis appeard to be one shot away from being stopped, however he showed his championship heart and held on to to survive the round.

Davis came out in round nine very determined and began to apply the pressure. With less that 15 seconds to go in round nine, Davis would land a huge right hand that put Breland down on his face and out. It was a hard fought, brutal war and Aaron Davis was now a world champion.

Davis wasted no time getting back in the ring as he successfully defended his title twice over the next three months, both by knockout as he closed out a stellar 1990. Davis would begin 1991 in a high profile bout as he met Breland’s Olympic teammate in former gold medalist and former jr. welterweight champion Meldrick Taylor.

They met on 01/19/91 in an HBO World Championship Boxing main event in front of huge crowd at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, NJ. Davis came into the bout 1 1/2 lbs under the welterweight limit of 147 lbs. Many felt he may have overtrained and was nervous due to the magnitude of the event.

That night, Davis faced a very determined Meldrick Taylor who was looking to make a huge statement just 10 months after losing his first bout in a thrilling fight with Julio Cesar Chavez. Taylor arrived at the arena an hour earlier than usual and he warmed up very well as opposed to Davis, who looked very dry as he entered the ring. Taylor took advantage as he dominated the the early stages of the bout with his excellent hand speed.

Davis showed his grit and determination throughout the middle rounds as he finally got going and turned the fight into a bit of a slugfest. The night however belonged to Taylor as he dominated the bout with his handspeed and combinations. The end result would be a unanimous decision win for Taylor.

Davis would bounce back though, winning his next six bouts over the next 16 months which earned him another title shot against WBA Super Welterweight champion Julio Cesar Vasquez. Davis would come up short, losing a 12 round majority decision. He would go 4-3 from 1994-1996.

He was having managerial problems outside the ring as well as problems staying focused due to women. As Larry Merchant said about Davis, “He would rather make love than war”. Although he was “Superman“, his kryponite was a sexy “Lois Lane”.

1997 would be a good year for Davis as he would go 3-1 with 2 KO’s. His one loss that year came against former welterweight champion Jose Luis Lopez which was part of an HBO Boxing After Dark doubleheader. Although Davis lost a controversial majority decision, he boxed very well and both Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant said that it was the best Aaron Davis they’ve seen in years.

Davis would remain inactive for 2 1/2 years and would return to the ring in 2000 and would go 6-0 with 5 KO’s over the next two years which included an eighth round TKO over Vinny Pazienza. He would retire in 2002 with a record of 49-6 with 31 KO’s.
He was never stopped or knocked down inside the ring. He was an all action fighter that gave a determined effort anytime he stepped inside the ring. Any fighter who faced Aaron Davis knew they had their work cut out for them. He was a skillfull technician who was never afraid to mix it up when he had to. You don’t see many fighters like Aaron Davis in today’s world of boxing.

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