Southpaw wins WBA lightweight title

By George Henry Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — 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 12th-round 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 two-division 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.”

At 25, Davis is entering his prime and moving up to lightweight for the first time. He gave the 38-year-old 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.

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.