CHICAGO — Donovan George couldn’t help but be emotional following his performance Saturday at US Cellular Field. The 29-year-old cried out for his wife Aleksandra, who is expecting twins, and took a few moments to catch his breath.
The moment overwhelmed him — George finally earned a piece of a world title.
George earned a hard-fought unanimous decision over fellow super middleweight Dyah Davis by scores of 116-112 and 115-113 twice. With the win, George captured the IBO title.
“Besides marrying my wife and finding out about my twins, this is the greatest day of my life,” George said. “I thought I’d win a regional title here and there, but I never thought I’d win a world title.
“This is a dream come true.”
George (26-4-2, 22 knockouts) fought on even though he said he broke his right hand three or four weeks before fighting. George, who has a history of hand problems, told his hometown he wanted to go through with the fight because “he’s a badass.”
George, however, did have success with the right hand throughout the fight. In the early rounds, George used head movement to set up his right.
Davis (22-5-1, 10 KOs) had little answer for George early on, who was controlling the center of the ring. George connected with an overhand right repeatedly throughout the first five rounds.
“I’ve paid my dues and I’ve earned this,” George said. “Every time he got his rhythm, [my trainers’] Sam [Colonna] and Rita [Figueroa] had told me to make sure I stop it. Every time he did, I stepped up with a big punch and [disrupted] his rhythm.”
After the Round 5, Davis adjusted and upped his work rate. Davis spent more time standing in front, peppering George with his jab and sweeping with a right hand.
Davis found more success and said it was enough to win the fight.
“I honestly thought I was the busier fighter,” Davis said. “When you’re in somebody’s hometown, you have to control the crowd as well as the fighter. I guess he did enough to excite the crowd and get the antics going.”
In Round 10, George reapplied the head movement that threw off Davis’ rhythm earlier. George again found home to the right hand, stunning Davis with a right-left combination towards the end of the round.
“In camp, we had him moving his head more,” Colonna said. “We had him trying to work the body and not be in one spot all the time, give him different angles. But it’s a process. In the next fight, he’s going to be even better.”
Davis said George didn’t do anything that caused him problems. The 33-year-old felt the biggest obstacle was the ring itself. He pointed to the slickness of the mat, which caused fighters on the card to slip repeatedly. Earlier in the afternoon, rain heavily poured in the city and ringside crews kept wiping the ring in between rounds.
“As you could see, we were both slipping all night,” Davis said. “I’m a fighter with good movement. That was taken away from me tonight.”
Davis, who has now lost three of his last four fights, didn’t know what the future would hold. He said he had to discuss it with his family if he should retire or keep fighting.
George, on the other hand, gets to fight on another day. George said before and after the fight that he would retire if he had lost the fight. George desperately needed the win, suffering two bad losses to Adonis Stevenson and Caleb Truax in the past two years.
Instead, George rejoiced. He even was reflective on his six-month sentence in jail, serving time in 2008 for an aggravated battery charge.
“I just want to thank everyone for sticking by me,” George said. “I was a f___ing loser, going to jail. Now I’m a f___king world champion.”
Frankie Scalise-Dewayne Wisdom
In the co-main event, lightweight Frankie Scalise stopped Dewayne Wisdom in the fourth and final round. Scalise (9-1, 9 KOs), knocked Wisdom (4-18) down with an accumulation of punches and referee Celestino Ruiz stopped it on Wisdom’s way up. The official time of the stoppage was 2:14.
Mike Jimenez-Maxwell Taylor
Super middleweight and George’s close stablemate Mike Jimenez earned a six-round unanimous decision over journeyman Maxwell Taylor. Jimenez (15-0, 10 KOs) overcame a sluggish start to dictate the action soon after. The 27-year-old fighter landed thudding body shots and sweeping right hands as he controlled the southpaw.
Afterwards, Jimenez became emotional after earning the win in front of his fans.
“I do it for all these people who come out and support me,” he said. “I can’t do it without my team. It’s a real special moment for me.”
Fidel Navarette-Sergio Montes de Oca
After battling to a draw in February, featherweight Fidel Navarette got the better of Sergio Montes de Oca with a technical decision in six rounds. Judges Max De Luca and Mike Fitzgerald scored the fight 58-55 and Mauro DiFiore scored it 57-56. Navarette (6-0-2, 3 KOs) suffered a deep cut from an accidental headbutt to stop the fight.
In round four, Navarette sent de Oca to the canvas with a combination. Navarette controlled the action before that, landing the cleaner punches and more often. De Oca, however, rebounded in the last two rounds, but it wasn’t enough.
Genaro Mendez-Alfred Hall
Chicago welterweight Genaro Mendez stopped Alfred Hall at 2:04 of the fourth round. Before that, Mendez (8-2-1, 3 KOs) dominated Hall (3-6-2, 2 KOs) throughout. Mendez consistently applied pressure and was able to have success in the corners.
Will Coix-Quintez Bozell
In the second fight of the evening, Will Coix (3-0, 3 KOs) landed a crisp left hook to the liver to knockout Quintez Bozell (0-2) in the first round. The official time of the knockout was 1:01.
Mike Reid-Norman McGinn
Chicago native and light heavyweight Mike Reid earned his first professional victory in just 36 seconds over Norman McGinn (0-4). Reid, 173.5 landed a right hand that sent McGinn down and the referee waived the fight off as McGinn stood on his feet.