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He exterminated a Termite
Pat Putnam
September 24, 1979
Howard Davis continued his relentless march toward a shot at the lightweight title by boring in on Termite Watkins
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September 24, 1979

He Exterminated A Termite

Howard Davis continued his relentless march toward a shot at the lightweight title by boring in on Termite Watkins

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"How can you beat a Scotsman in Scotland?" asks Pete Ashlock, who co-manages Watkins. Also, London-based promoter Mickey Duff had stipulated that Watkins, if he won, would have to fight his first three defenses for Duff.

"Options have to be taken out of the boxing world," Ashlock says. "If a man wins a title, he should be allowed to fight for whom and where he wants."

Gil Clancy, the Madison Square Garden, matchmaker, had told both Davis and Watkins that the winner of their bout would be offered a fight against Ernesto Espana, the WBA champion, most likely in November. Espana, Clancy said, had agreed.

With that foremost in mind, Watkins promised at the weigh-in that he would do whatever it took to defeat Davis.

Davis glared at him coldly. "The only way you could beat me," he said, "would be if I had both arms and both legs cut off, and if I lost my vision."

Watkins, who once considered becoming a minister, looked at Davis, shrugged and said, "If that's what it takes...." He hadn't amassed a 46-2-1 record by being timid once he put on the gloves.

Outside of the ring Watkins is soft-spoken and gentlemanly. "It's like fighting Donny Osmond," says Dennis Rappaport, another of Davis' managers. Inside the ring. Termite, who's so nicknamed because his father was an exterminator, becomes a brawler. Trying to brake Davis' blinding speed, his plan was to lunge in behind a busy jab, slam a right to the body and grab.

Davis expected Watkins to come at him, so his plan was to back Termite up, mostly with a jab. "We've studied him on film," Davis said. "He can't fight going back."

Davis began slowly. He lost the first round, pushing and mugging, hitting and hugging. Then he went to work, swiftly and cooly. In the fifth round he took total command, stinging Watkins with jabs from afar and at one point ripping him with a right uppercut in close. In the eighth, throwing a stiff right in the midst of a furious flurry, Davis opened a deep cut under Watkins' left eye.

The last round was a slugging match between two tired fighters, both flatfooted, hitting and being hit, neither taking a step backward. Referee Carlos Padilla scored the round even. Judge Duane Ford gave it to Watkins, 10-9. Judge Richard Steele gave it to Davis, 10-9. No matter. The final numbers were all Davis'—Ford 97-94, Steele 98-93, Padilla 100-95.

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