Gervonta Davis had a few growing pains Saturday night against the veteran Yuriorkis Gamboa, but it was nothing compared to the pain the latter fighter had to endure. In his first fight at 135 pounds, Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) won the vacant WBA lightweight title with a 12th-round knockout of a resilient Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs) at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Here's how the fight ended, per Showtime Boxing:
Save for a few brief stretches, Davis was in complete control of the fight. "Tank" knocked down Gamboa in the second, eighth and 12th rounds. He did have some stamina issues in the later rounds and couldn't capitalize on Gamboa's mobility issues, as the veteran was hampered by an apparent leg injury. After the fight, Davis felt he could have done more, per Bad Left Hook:
Gamboa, 38, said after the bout he ruptured his Achilles tendon, per the Showtime broadcast. He soldiered on, and if he did rupture his Achilles, then it was about as heroic of a showing as you will get in boxing.
After a solid first round, the 25-year-old Davis made his first statement punch of the night in the second, doubling up on the jab and then coming in with a left hook to the chin that dropped Gamboa. Here's the punch, via Showtime Boxing:
Gamboa recovered fairly well from the knockdown, but the big punch had a knock-on effect. As soon as Gamboa went down, he started looking at his right shoe. At first it seemed like it might have been an injury suffered as he went to the canvas. Some observers felt it looked his shoe was falling apart. Either way, it was clear Gamboa had trouble moving around the ring—a terrible development for a guy who relies on speed.
The inability to move his feet comfortably made Gamboa a much easier target for Davis' power punches. The Baltimore native didn't pounce on the problem right away, perhaps still wary of Gamboa's swift hands. He finally opened up in the fifth round, landing some impressive power punches square on Gamboa's jaw.
To the elder fighter's credit, he withstood the thunderous punches and managed to sneak in a few counters. Sergio Mora offered up this clever description of the fifth frame:
A particularly effective tactic for Davis was a jab to the body followed by a shot to the head. A younger Gamboa might have countered those shots or made Davis miss, but he was a beat too slow in most instances.
Gamboa put together an impressive seventh round, considering all the punishment he had absorbed. He took advantage of Davis' puzzling lack of output and at one point drove the American back to the ropes.
The resurgence was short-lived. Davis found a big opening in the eighth round, sending Gamboa to the canvas in the final few seconds of the eighth round. He wobbled him with a jab to the temple and then rocked him with a left hook to the chin.
Showtime Boxing had the highlight:
The ninth saw Davis try to end the night early, but Gamboa again showed incredible heart and stayed on his feet. This forced Davis to go deeper into a fight than he ever has, and it was clear he wasn't comfortable in this territory. He looked sluggish at times, allowing Gamboa to land some sharp combinations.
In the end, he avoided the game-changing punch and secured the win with a 12th-round knockout.
This fight showed that when Davis is locked on to his target, his power is devastating. It also showed that he has work to do when it comes to concentrating and defending himself when he's tired. Davis is still young, and no one should expect him to have everything figured out between the ropes yet. If he can improve a few things, he will be a star for years.