Gervonta Davis’ debut at lightweight wasn’t the most impressive performance, which probably sounds weird because he dropped Yuriorkis Gamboa three times en route to a one-sided victory via 12th round stoppage.
But Davis (23-0, 22 KO) was fighting a faded opponent in Gamboa (30-3, 18 KO), and had some struggles with his stamina along the way, fading a bit even while winning most of the rounds in the fight, breathing hard as the fight went to a distance he’d never had to go before.
Ultimately, Davis got the win he wanted, and with it the WBA’s secondary “world” title, a paper version of the title currently held by Vasiliy Lomachenko. At the time of the stoppage, Bad Left Hook had it 108-99 and 109-98 for Davis.
Davis, 25, dropped the 38-year-old Gamboa in the second round, and it seemed after that round finished that we might be getting an early night, as Gamboa complained to his corner that he couldn’t walk. As soon as he was dropped, he looked down at his leg.
Much of the discussion was about his shoe, which had sort of exploded on him and was wrapped up with tape after the fifth round. But after the fight, Gamboa said he suspected he’d also ruptured his Achilles tendon.
“I think I ruptured my Achilles tendon,” Gamboa said through a translator. “I’m a warrior and I kept going, but as soon as I felt it, I knew it was ruptured. I can’t put pressure on it. I wanted to keep going, I’m a warrior.”
Gamboa did his best unable to put much weight on the leg and sit down on his punches, but he was expected to be outgunned at full strength, and whatever problems he had with the shoe or leg or both did him no favors, obviously.
Gamboa took some brutal shots in round five, and was dropped again in the eighth and once more, for a final time, in the 12th, with the fight halted at 1:17 of the final round. The knockdowns were the 15th, 16th, and 17th of Gamboa’s career, and if the one in the eighth had come about 20 or 30 seconds sooner, he might not have gotten out of that round.
“He’s a vet. I was catching him, I was hurting him, but he still was alert,” Davis said after the fight. “He was different from any opponent I’d fought before. I knew he was a great opponent. I believe my performance tonight was a C+.”
Asked about the troubles he had making weight on Friday, Davis was honest about it, saying, “I blame myself, I don’t blame nobody around me.” He also said he believes he could still make 130 if necessary, but in theory, the bigger fights are at 135.
As for those other top lightweights, including Vasiliy Lomachenko, Davis told Jim Gray, “I’m the top dog. There’s no safety on this glock, so bring ‘em on.”
For Gamboa, it’s another setback in what has been a successful and memorable if somewhat disappointing career, largely coming down to poor business decisions and mismanagement. But he says he’s not looking to hang up the gloves.
“I’m going to keep going,” the Cuban added. “135 is my weight, I want to stay here.”