Boxing returns to Atlanta in style as “Tank” steamrolls a game Gamboa to win a world lightweight title in a SHOWTIME Championship Boxing headliner.
Gervonta “Tank” Davis is world champion once again.
Davis thrilled a boisterous crowd of 14,129 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, winning the vacant WBA World Lightweight title with a twelfth-round TKO over the courageous Yuriorkis Gamboa in the main event of an entertaining card on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing.
Making his lightweight debut, Davis, a two-time champion at super featherweight, went into the 12th round for the first time in career, showing that he carries power late.
On Friday, Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) initially weighed in at 136¼ before coming back to weigh 134.8 pounds 90 minutes later. There was some speculation that the weight cut would zap Davis’s energy reservoir. He had a lull in the middle rounds, though still managed to land 120 of 321 total punches (37%) to Gamboa’s 78/617 (13%).
“Coming into this fight, I knew Gamboa was a tough opponent, even though everybody was writing him off,” Davis said. “I was catching him and I was hurting him, even though he was alert. I believe my performance was a C-plus.
“The (weight cut) wasn’t really a problem. I blame myself. I’m improving. I feel comfortable at both weights (130 and 135). I’m the top dog.”
Davis was sharp early on. With 1:45 left in the second, he dropped Gamboa with a short left cross. Gamboa rose but limped for the rest of the frame. Afterward, it was revealed that he had tore an achilles and would require surgery.
In lasting until the twelfth, Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs) not only showed bravery, but also had his moments during the fight.
“I’m a warrior, I kept going,” the former unified world featherweight champion said afterward. “But as soon as I felt it, I knew it was ruptured. I can’t put pressure on it.”
Gamboa’s corner taped up his right ankle between the fourth and fifth rounds.
It didn’t matter.
In the fifth, Davis exerted more punishment on Gamboa, landing a left hook off of Gamboa’s chin, then a left uppercut. The fight nearly ended in the eighth, when, late in the stanza, Davis floored Gamboa again with another left. The Cuban stumbled to his feet and was saved by a bell that rang moments later.
Gamboa showed great character in hanging in against Davis. But the tone of the fight had grown monotonous. Davis was winning almost every second of every round.
Finally, in the twelfth, Davis connected with a beautiful left uppercut square on Gamboa’s chin. He crashed to the canvas a third time. Referee Jack Reiss had seen enough, immediately waving the fight off. Official time was 1:17.
Jean Pascal survives a late scare to outlast Badou Jack
Jean Pascal is very blunt. The 37-year-old veteran is in constant attack mode. He loads up with power punches and is unrelenting. He’s experienced numerous rebirths but this one may be his best yet. Pascal retained his WBA World Light Heavyweight belt with a close, 12-round split decision over the stubborn Badou Jack.
Judges Barry Lindenman and Nelson Vasquez’s scored it 114-112 for Pascal, while judge Julie Lederman had it 114-112 for Jack.
“This is boxing, there’s no up-and-down,” said Pascal, who survived a last scare when he was knocked down in the last round. “It was a close fight. Badou is a great fighter. I definitely won that fight, because I am the champ. I thought I was in control the whole fight.”
Punch stats reveal Pascal lost in all three areas: Total punches (155/556-28% to Jack’s 244/632-39%), jabs (35/276-13% to 120-353-34%) and power shots (120/280-43% to 124/279-44%).
But he did bank early rounds, while Jack didn’t begin picking the pace until around the seventh.
Pascal (35-6-1, 20 KOs) started well winning the opening two rounds, but Jack, 36, seemed to turn the sway with :27 left in the third, when Jack leaned in and popped Pascal with a right to the face. That appeared to hurt Pascal, who was wobbled by the punch. Jack closed the third strong and climbed back into the fight after being down in the first two rounds.
Jack (22-3-3, 13 KOs) looped a right that caught Pascal on the left side of his head with 2:24 left in the fourth. Again, Pascal appeared stunned by the blow, and backed up. This time, Jack had the time to pursue, and followed Pascal into a corner. Jack came back to hit Pascal to the body.
Just when it appeared Pascal’s energy output was slowly waning, he crushed Jack with an arcing right with :12 left in the round, sending Jack down for the fourth time in his career. What set it up with a right uppercut.
“I wasn’t that hurt, it was a good punch,” Jack said.
Pascal followed his strong closing in the fourth with another superb finish in the fifth, including a double left hook in the last 10 seconds.
Steadily, Jack chipped away at Pascal’s lead. Jack remained patient, stayed in the pocket and worked consistently well, while Pascal chose to work in spots.
Pascal survived the twelfth, when Jack knocked him down for the second time in his career. Pascal took a barrage of shots, but he held on.
“Of course, I feel I won the fight,” Jack said. “Pascal has a hell of a chin. He is a tough warrior. I want to thank him for the opportunity. Maybe he was the better man tonight, I don’t know. I would love a rematch.”
Lionell Thompson upsets Jose Uzcategui in his super middleweight debut
Hall of Fame announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. made a rare faux pas in the first televised undercard fight of the night when he introduced Lionell Thompson, who making his super middleweight debut, as “Lionell ‘Lonny B’ Davis.” It was a cringe-worthy moment that struck a quick doubletake from Thompson.
That was about the only thing that went wrong for Thompson (22-5, 12 KOs).
The 34-year-old from Buffalo, New York, won the biggest fight of his career via 10-round unanimous victory over former IBF super middleweight titlist Jose Uzcategui (29-4, 24 KOs).
“Moving down to 168 (pounds), I was a little worried for my first fight but I felt great. I still had the power at this weight and I hurt him a few times,” Thompson said. “This is my weight class now and I think I have a real chance at becoming super middleweight champion and putting my city on the map as the first world champion from Buffalo.”
Uzcategui was surprisingly dropped with seconds left in the first by a right on the chin, set up perfectly by a jab. Uzcategui got to his feet without any problems and reached his corner on solid legs.
In the third, Thompson suffered a cut over his right eye, the first of his career. One round later, referee George Chip took a point away from Thompson for excessive holding, though he’d just warned Uzcategui for the same offense seconds before.
By the eighth, it appeared Thompson’s right eye was closing. Yet he fought well, using an effective jab to the body and keeping Uzcategui at a respectable distance throughout most of the fight. Just when it appeared Uzcategui was finding a rhythm, Thompson would again land a jab and tie up Uzcategui.
For the fight, Thompson landed 124 of 383 total punches (32%) to Uzcategui’s 75 of 385 (19%), but the most telling stat was Thompson’s overwhelming connect percentage with his jab. He landed 80 of 251 (32%) to Uzcategui’s 21 of 164 (13%). Power shots also favored Thompson: 44/132 (33%) to Uzcategui’s 54/221 (24%).
“I thought the decision was fair,” Uzcategui said. “I don't want to make any excuses. He came to fight. The distance from my last fight definitely showed. I was very rusty. I need to get back in the gym train harder and hopefully get another fight in the next few months.”
For a closer look at Davis vs Gamboa, check out our fight night page.