Davis stops Gam­boa in 12th, wins WBA light­weight ti­tle

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - As­so­ci­ated Press

By GEORGE HENRY

AT­LANTA >> Ger­vonta Davis could tell early on that Yu­ri­orkis Gam­boa wouldn’t go down eas­ily, so Davis de­cided to be pa­tient and wear him down.

“I wasn’t pressed for the knock­out,” Davis said. “Once I seen I was hurt­ing him and he wasn’t get­ting out of there, I just had to touch him up and win the rounds.”

Davis stayed un­beaten in his ca­reer with a 12thround stop­page of Gam­boa to win a light­weight ti­tle Satur­day night.

Fight­ing past the ninth round for the first time, Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) showed why his nick­name is Tank, re­leas­ing a bar­rage of punches in the fi­nal round be­fore a left up­per­cut to the head ended the fight at the 1:44 mark when ref­eree Jack Reiss called it.

Davis, be­com­ing a twodi­vi­sion cham­pion in his adopted home­town, dropped Gam­boa three times. He landed a left hand to knock the vet­eran down in the fi­nal sec­onds of the eighth, bring­ing fans in the lower bowl at sold-out State Farm arena to their feet.

“I showed I’m an elite fighter,” Davis said. “I’m not try­ing to rush it and get him out of there and wind up get­ting caught. That was my main fo­cus go­ing in. Not try­ing to rush it. Touch him up and show the peo­ple I have skills.”

At­lanta rap­per Lil Baby per­formed along­side Davis as he made his en­trance for the main event. It didn’t take long for Davis to en­er­gize the fans, us­ing a dou­ble-jab and a left hand to drop Gam­boa at the 1:36 mark of the sec­ond.

At 25, Davis is en­ter­ing his prime and mov­ing up to light­weight for the first time. He gave the 38-yearold Gam­boa a beat­ing in the fifth with left up­per­cuts, but the Cuban had plenty of punch re­sis­tance.

Reiss called a brief time­out be­fore the start of the third when Gam­boa com­plained about an is­sue with his right shoe. His corner retied the shoe be­fore the start of the fourth and taped it heav­ily be­fore the start of the fifth.

Stacy McKin­ley, Gam­boa’s as­sis­tant trainer, said his fighter “had his an­kle or his Achilles heel all messed up. They wanted to stop the fight and I said, ‘No.’ I told him to get locked in and do the best you can.”

Davis, a south­paw, won At­lanta’s first world cham­pi­onship fight since Evan­der Holy­field suc­cess­fully de­fended his heavy­weight belts against Vaughn Bean 21 years ago.

“My thing was to go out there, touch him up, not get hit and break him down,” Davis said. “I be­lieve if I would’ve touched him to the body more that I would’ve got­ten him out of there early, but les­son learned. I put on a great per­for­mance for the fans. I’m grate­ful.”

Davis had a dra­matic Fri­day, get­ting fined by the Ge­or­gia State Ath­letic Com­mis­sion for miss­ing weight when he tipped the scales at 136.2 pounds and tak­ing the two ex­tra hours he needed to make 134 ¾. He also shoved Gam­boa at the face­off, set­ting off a ruckus on the stage, though both box­ers quickly de­parted.

Davis’ next fight is un­de­cided. Su­per light­weight cham­pion Va­syl Lo­machenko of Ukraine said in April that he wants a match, and Davis said last month that he’s ready, too. But a more likely pos­si­bil­ity is Davis re­turn­ing to 130 pounds to face Mex­ico’s Léo Santa Cruz.

“I don’t feel like no­body above me,” Davis said. “I’m the cash cow, I be­lieve, so at 135 or 130, I’m sell­ing out are­nas, putting butts in the seats. I don’t think (Lo­machenko is) do­ing that. Line him up. I’m a fighter. I’m will­ing to fight any­body.

I’m ready.”

Davis’ han­dlers have cau­tiously laid out his ca­reer, and Gam­boa, a for­mer uni­fied feath­er­weight cham­pion and 2004 Olympic gold medal­ist at fly­weight, was one of Davis’ tough­est matchups to date de­spite be­ing past his prime.

The ap­proach has worked to help Davis stay un­beaten and build his brand. Davis had one fight last into the ninth, in his 14th bout against Luis Sanchez of Mex­ico four years ago.

Davis’ past three fights lasted no longer than three rounds. His TKO of Ar­gen­tine Jesús Cuel­lar in the third in April 2018 won Davis the WBA su­per feath­er­weight ti­tle. His next fight, 11 months ago against Mex­ico’s Hugo Ruiz, a late re­place­ment, marked his eighth ca­reer first-round knock­out and his first as a card head­liner.

And in July be­fore a ca­pac­ity crowd in his home­town of Bal­ti­more, Davis fin­ished off Ri­cardo Núñez of Panama in two rounds with a TKO.

Gam­boa, whom Davis de­scribed as his tough­est op­po­nent since his seventh-round TKO of Puerto Rico’s José Pe­draza for his first world ti­tle nearly three years ago, had won four straight since fail­ing to come out for the eighth round in 2017 against Robin­son Castel­lanos.

In a co-fea­ture un­der­card, Haiti’s Jean Pas­cal (35-6-1) won a split de­ci­sion over Swe­den’s Badou Jack (22-3-3) to claim the WBA light heavy­weight ti­tle.

Jack used a cou­ple of rights in the open­ing sec­onds of the 12th to knock down Pas­cal for the sec­ond time in his ca­reer. Pas­cal stag­gered to his knees and into the ropes, but quickly stood up, and the fi­nal cards read 114-112 for Jack and two 114-112s for Pas­cal.

In the clos­ing sec­onds of the fourth, Pas­cal used an over­hand right to knock down Jack for the fourth time in his ca­reer. It was dicey for Pas­cal in the eighth, get­ting knocked side­ways into the ropes with a com­bi­na­tion, but he came back with a flurry be­fore the bell.

In a su­per mid­dleweight match on the un­der­card, Lionell Thomp­son won his de­but at 168 pounds, up­set­ting Mex­ico’s José Uzcátegui in a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion as one judge scored it 95-94 and the two oth­ers 96-92. Thomp­son (22-5) dropped Uzcátegui (29-4) with a right hand in the clos­ing sec­onds of the first. Thomp­son over­came a cut over his right eye in the third and get­ting docked one point in the fourth for hold­ing.

TAMI CHAP­PELL - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ger­vonta Davis, right, lands a punch on Yu­ri­orkis Gam­boa dur­ing round eight for the WBA light­weight box­ing bout Sun­day, Dec. 29, 2019, in At­lanta. Davis won the ti­tle by a 12th round TKO.

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