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‘Boom!’: ‘Tank’ Davis retains belt in vicious fashion at MGM Grand — PHOTOS

Updated June 15, 2024 - 11:21 pm

It seemed only a matter of time until the patented Gervonta “Tank” Davis knockout punch was coming as he continued to back Frank Martin into the corner Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

That didn’t make the decisive blow any less dramatic on the historic venue’s 100th night of championship boxing.

Davis staggered Martin with a flurry in the corner early in the eighth round. He then landed a thunderous walk-off left hand, sprinting across the ring and climbing the ropes to celebrate before the referee could even begin his anticlimactic count.

“It was the uppercut (that hurt him),” Davis said. “Then boom!”

Davis (30-0, 28 knockouts) retained the World Boxing Association world lightweight title.

In the co-featured bout, star David Benavidez (29-0, 24 KOs) claimed the World Boxing Council interim world title in his first fight moving up to light heavyweight with a unanimous decision over former world champ Oleksandr Gvozdyk (20-2, 16 KOs).

Davis was far flashier with his victory in the headliner.

Martin (18-1, 12 KOs) had success early, but Davis’ power started to take a toll late and slowed Martin down. Martin started to regularly seek relief in the corner, which only made him more of a sitting target.

“I got to chilling too much on the ropes,” Martin said. “That damn sure wasn’t part of the game plan.”

Eventually, Davis unloaded a left hand with Martin’s defenses down. There was little doubt the fight was over from there.

“I just had to get in the right range, and I was finding it,” Davis said. “I just had to break him down.”

“I knew the way he fell he wasn’t getting back up,” he added.

Davis handed Martin the first loss of his career despite competing for the first time in 421 days, a layoff that included a stint in jail.

“I was rusty, but it was OK because I’m back,” Davis said. “A couple of rounds, I felt like I completely needed a warmup, but it’s OK. His footwork wasn’t bothering me. I knew he would tire out. That’s why we decided to just stand there and be a target for him so he could tire himself out.”

While Martin’s early success may have been the result of some ring rust and strategy from Davis, Martin blamed himself for being unable to take advantage.

“I feel like, in the beginning, I was in control, but then I got a little too comfortable,” Martin said. “I stopped doing my movement, and once I stopped moving, he was hitting me with big shots. When I stopped doing my thing, he started hitting me big. It was just me trying to figure out what I could do to try to slow down the pressure that was coming.”

Benavidez in control

Benavidez had to settle for a less dramatic victory.

He graded his performance a seven out of 10 despite cruising on the scorecards and capturing a belt in his divisional debut.

His speed moved up with him to the 175-pound division, but his power and gas tank may need some time to make the adjustment.

While Benavidez looked too fast and active for Gvozdyk early, he wasn’t able to back up the former world champion and Olympic bronze medalist. Benavidez also couldn’t maintain his pace as the fight moved into the later rounds.

It was just the fifth time he has been taken the distance.

“I think it’s because I was trying to get the feel of the division,” said Benavidez, who revealed he suffered a cut and a hand injury in training that nearly kept him from stepping in the ring. “Guys hit a bit hard up here.”

One of the main reasons Benavidez moved up was because he was unable to secure a fight against Canelo Alvarez despite years of lobbying. Benavidez said after the fight he would drop back down if Alvarez finally accepts, but is willing to try to win titles in both divisions.

Undercard report

Also on the pay-per-view card, Alberto Puello (23-0, 10 KOs) captured the interim WBC super lightweight title with a split decision over Gary Antuanne Russell (17-1, 17 KOs).

Five weeks after he was promoted from WBC interim middleweight champ to the official titlist due to the arrest of Jermall Charlo, Carlos Adames (24-1, 18 KOs) retained the title with a unanimous decision over Terrell Gausha (24-4-1, 12 KOs).

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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