Post-Fight Review: Gervonta Davis Dominates Gamboa in Dull Affair
When I was actively working on the draft for my now abandoned book about the last decade in the sport of boxing (more news on this later), I was planning on dedicating an entire chapter to the men who I pictured would be passed the baton of being the box-office star from guys like our Anthony Joshua’s, Canelo Alvarez’s, Floyd Mayweather’s, and Gennady Golovkin’s of today’s sport. Of the list, the one outlier, the leader of the freshman class of the 2020’s was Gervonta “Tank” Davis. While of course, I have other fighters pitched to make a big mark in the sport in the 2020’s- Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia, and Devin Haney come to mind- I have had Gervonta picked as the superstar of the future since I witnessed him incinerate Jose Pedraza in 2017 to win his first world title down at super featherweight. It became apparent to me in that 7th round battering that I was witnessing someone who had potential to be something special. Now, let’s be honest, the past two-years have been less than awe-inspiring from the young prodigy hailing from the mean streets of Baltimore, Maryland. The level of opposition he has faced has been rather stale and stagnant, while the frequency of how often we got to see “Tank” over the past two years has been painstakingly lacking.
Gervonta Davis wasted no-time in the July dispatching of Ricardo Nunez, lasting only a round and a half, Davis showed his fans his killer instinct once again. (Photo: Showtime)
He seemed to fix at least the frequency issue in this last year of the decade- he fought three times. In February, Davis was slated to face former two-division world champion Abner Mares in Carson, California- this would have been a decent step up for Davis, however, Mares suffered an eye injury in preparation for the fight that left him to be replaced by the unknown Hugo Ruiz of Mexico. The fight was over in a round. Following, in July, Davis finished off a fellow little known opponent from the Dominican Republic by the name of Ricardo Nunez in front of Davis’s adoring hometown crowd of Baltimore, Maryland. Lastly, Gervonta found his year-end opponent in the form of a rather weathered 38-Year-Old version of 2004 Cuban Olympic Gold Medalist- Yuriorkis Gamboa, who beat an also broken down version of Roman “Rocky” Martinez on Gervonta’s July undercard.
In Gamboa, the 25-Year-Old two-time world champion found himself in a rather precarious position. This was planned out and promoted to be Gervonta Davis’s “big night out” so to say, it was supposed to be his proclamation of his superstar status and his pay-per-view promise. In many ways, it was intended to be a prelude to what seems to be a blockbuster 2020 for Gervonta Davis, in specifics, a PPV debut against newly crowned four-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz.
A lightning left hook from Davis electrifies the pro-Gervonta crowd early in the fight in Atlanta. (Photo: Showtime)
This was tailormade to be a showcase for what Gervonta Davis could do, not only from a box office standpoint, but from an in-ring standpoint as well. The junior, he proved to be well established in- Davis single handily packed the State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta full of 14,000 people which isn’t really a massive combat sports market, but it is a massive market for Hip-Hop and urban culture, a demographic that Davis has been able to tap into on multiple occasions as photos of him rubbing shoulders with stars of the hip-hop genre such as Drake, Migos, and Lil Baby are plastered all over social media on occasion. It’s quite clear that Gervonta Davis has real potential of being a box office success- the only problem is having his potential meet his execution, which proved to be an issue on the night.
Things were going to plan; many had picked Davis to walk over the older, deteriorated version of Yuriorkis Gamboa in under six rounds, it seemed he was going to do just that. In round two, Gervonta was able to send Gamboa (predictably) on an early vacation to the canvas in round 2. Gamboa would return to his corner where he would report to his coaches multiple times that he “couldn’t go [out for the next round]” it would later be reported that the Cuban hopeful to catch a second wind in his career with a stirring performance against the rising Davis suffered from a ruptured Achilles tendon during the knockdown sequence in late round two. It was quite clear something was array to Showtime’s ringside commentary team who noticed Gamboa moving awkwardly on his foot. “I was unable to put any pressure on my foot, I knew it was a torn Achilles” the defeated Gamboa confided to Jim Gray in his post-fight interview. Still, with a one-legged fighter in front of him, Gervonta Davis seemed unable/unwilling to close the show early. Rounds three and four would come, then six, seven, eight, this was now the longest fight of Gervonta Davis’s career- only going past the eighth round once in his career in a disappointing affair with Costa Rica’s Francisco Fonseca which ended 30-seconds into the eighth frame. Showtime blow-by-blow commentator, and multiple-time world titlist Paulie Malignaggi pulled no punches in his analysis of his networks next hopeful cash-cow. Paulie, known for being ever the truth speaker, spoke of his disappointment in Davis’s performance- from his abysmal punch output (or the lack thereof), he questioned Davis’s conditioning and casted doubt upon the young man’s focus outside of the ring. ESPN writer Steve Kim shared similar doubts on Gervonta’s dedication following yet another less than eye-catching showing, “The problem with stating that all Gervonta Davis has to be more is disciplined, is that many believe that discipline is a skill, not just a trait. Everyone basically works hard in camp, it’s really what you do in-between when nobody is watching.” Both of these claims would be backed up by the fact that for a second time in his career Davis missed weight in his first attempt by more than a pound the day before his clash with Yuriorkis, and this is following a move up to the lightweight division after he claimed the cut down to 130 lbs. to be too taxing on his body. Also, pictures of a bloated version of Davis surfaced on twitter in between his July fight and this one, seeming to confirm the idea that he had been out of the gym for an extended period of time. Regardless of the questionable behavior, Davis was able to close the show in dramatic fashion with a much needed highlight-reel worthy right uppercut:
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) December 29, 2019
The brutal rear-uppercut that landed with a crack upon Gamboa’s jawline had been landing just about every time “Tank” would throw it, however, in the final round he finally put his trademark killer-intentions behind it. Gervonta Davis was visibly exhausted from the below average pace he had set, and it seemed he was only comfortable with going for the kill once he saw the finish line in sight. This could be equipped as further evidence that Davis was quite determined to give his best in this bout.
Davis, admiring his destructive work after landing the knockout blow in round 12. (Photo: Showtime)
Like with most things, the buzzards of hatred known to be the twitter boxing community were quick to pick apart at the somewhat disappointing performance of Gervonta Davis on the night. Sure, it was an unsavory effort in what needed to be one of his most impressive to date, but he got the massive, clip-worthy knockout. At the end of the day, and that’s what the general public will remember most about this fight on New Years’ Weekend.
I don’t personally understand the hatred for Davis, he isn’t out here assaulting women or, getting into drunken car crashes, he’s a rather humble soft-spoken guy, a ferocious fighter, and a fun personality in a sport that can be at times lacking for credible must-see T.V. fighters with mainstream crossover appeal.
Buzzards were also swarming in the form of fellow boxers chomping-at-the-bit to get a chance to share the ring and the paycheck that comes with the now two-division, three-time world champion. “I can’t wait to knock that fat midget out” said 10-0 Mayweather Promotions fighter Roland Romero. The Atheltic’s boxing reporter Mike Coppinger announced in his post-fight column that 21-Year-Old boxing heartthrob Ryan Garcia has “expressed interest to those closest to him in boxing Gervonta Davis during the latter part of 2020. ” And, most likely out of the lineup, the aforementioned first pay-per-view headliner with fellow newcomer to the lightweight division four-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz who was featured in his own rather disappointing showcase in the co-main event slot for Wilder-Ortiz 2 a month ago in Vegas.
“I give myself a C+” Davis proclaims when asked how he would grade his performance post-fight. An honest, but damming statement. (Photo: Amanda Westcott)
Whatever may or may not be next for the now 23-0 (22 KO’s) Gervonta “The One” Davis, one thing is clear, in terms of near-future, 2020 needs to be a big year for the proud native Baltimore. With his fellow young rising compatriots looming, 2020 is the year that Davis needs to make his bold statement and show why he truly is the “next big thing” in boxing.