For followers of Baltimore boxer Gervonta Davis, his most recent win — a 12th-round TKO of veteran Cuban fighter Yuriorkis Gamboa Dec. 28 in Atlanta — struck some familiar chords. And that also included some sour notes.
On the plus side for the undefeated Davis, it was his 23rd straight win with 22 KOs and the triumph earned him the vacant WBA lightweight title (135 pounds). That certainly helps polish an impressive resume that already includes two titles at super featherweight (130 pounds, IBF and WBA).
However, there were also some similarities regarding the Atlanta bout to a fight in Las Vegas in 2017 that was not Davis’ brightest moment. For starters, in Vegas, Davis failed to make weight and lost his IBF 130-pound title on the scales. Then, he had a lackluster performance before finishing off Francisco Fonseca with a KO in the eighth round. Davis heard some booing in that bout.
Move forward nearly two and a half years to the recent fight in Atlanta and again Davis, now 25, first failed to make weight — even though he was moving up to 135 pounds — and wound up being weighed another time when he did make the limit. In the fight itself, Davis saw the gritty 38-year old Gamboa nearly go the limit before Davis finished him off with a left uppercut in the 12th round. But again, there were boos for Davis along the way.
“I don’t like to get booed,” Davis said in an interview after the fight, “so when they were booing because I was figuring him out, that’s when I showed them that I could touch him whenever I wanted to.”
During the course of the bout, Davis dominated Gamboa knocking him down three times, in the second round, the eighth and finally the 12th when the referee stopped the contest. Gamboa said after the fight that he had ruptured an Achilles tendon early in the bout but carried on after having his boot taped.
While a Baltimore native, Davis calls Atlanta, where his baby daughter lives, a second home and more than 14,000 fans packed State Farm Arena there for the fight.
Davis was complimentary of Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs).
“He showed that he was a tough opponent,” Davis said of Gamboa. “There were shots that were hurting him and I knew he was hurt and he was wobbling but somehow he was still moving his head. That’s how I knew that I wasn’t in the ring with some regular guy, that I was in there with someone with top experience.”
The move up to 135 pounds for Davis is significant. There is a collection of tough, name fighters in the division that could mean big paydays.
The most notable is Vasyl Lomachenko, the Ukrainian who has held multiple titles and is the WBC “franchise” lightweight champion. There’s also Devin Haney, the current WBC world champion at lightweight.
“I believe I’m the top dog at ’35, ’30,” Davis said.
However, Lomachenko, 31, or Haney, 21, are not likely to be on Davis’ dance card in the immediate future.
Instead, what might be on the horizon for Davis in 2020 is a pay-per-view match and the name that appears in published reports is Mexican Leo Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz, 31, is the WBA junior lightweight champion, a division similar to super featherweight in which Davis has fought.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mayweather Promotions