Gervonta Davis Stops Mario Barrios in a Thriller

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Davis solidifies his pound for pound status and is now a three-division world champion following another thrilling performance Saturday night on SHOWTIME PPV.

The glow in his eyes never changed. Gervonta “Tank” Davis held an unusual calm in his dressing room before taking on the biggest challenge in his career. Then again, a raised, lit canvas has always been his sanctuary, the one place in the world where he is untouchable.

In front of a sell-out crowd of 16,570 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Davis stayed untouchable by stopping Mario “El Azteca” Barrios at 2:13 of the 11th round in an incredible all-action brawl to wrest the WBA super lightweight championship in becoming a three-division titlist. 

It was a fitting finale to an action-packed SHOWTIME pay-per-view presented by Premier Boxing Champions. 

“I made it tough, I could have made it easier, I went up in weight, two weight classes, but I got the job done,” Davis said. “I tried to catch him with clean shots. I’m the type of fighter that doesn’t want to throw any type of shot. The shots I was throwing, most of them were missing.

“Eventually, I caught up with him. I knew I was coming up two weight classes. I knew for sure if I catch him, I’m crackin him! So, I caught him, and it showed.”

The size difference was palpable between the two 26-year-olds in the opening round. Barrios towered over Davis (25-0, 24 KOs), imposing his six-inch height advantage by backing up the smaller southpaw. Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs) did a nice job in the second using distance, but Davis landed his first substantial punch of the fight, a straight left through Barrios’ guard with 1:06 left in the round.

After two, Barrios was where he wanted to be, while Davis was still working on trying to find his range. With 1:39 left in the fourth, Davis just missed with a left uppercut. Through four, Davis still had not figured out Barrios.

Feeling comfortable, Barrios even had his hair combed by a cornerman between the fourth and fifth rounds.

Maybe it was a little premature.

In the last minute of the fifth, Davis broke through the distance threshold and began backing up Barrios with his pressure. With seconds remaining in the frame, Davis cracked a straight left on Barrios’ nose, then opened a cut over Barrios’ right eye with more shots.

Davis began negating Barrios’ jab by meeting it with his right. He began opening up more with lefts. In the opening minute of the eighth, Barrios caught Davis against the ropes but then, in an instant, the tide of the fight changed.

It began with a beautiful feint followed by a lead right hook that dropped Barrios for the first time in his career. Davis jumped on Barrios again and felled him for a second time with a straight left. Smelling blood, Davis tried closing, but Barrios, blood flowing from a cut under his left eye, stood strong.

“My coach was telling me to go to a jab style but me I’m southpaw so they know I’m going to that jab side,” Davis said. “So, I would try and bait him in. I faked like I was going left, and I threw my right. And my hook over top, and that’s where I caught him.

“That definitely was the game plan, to cut off his jab.”

In the ninth, Barrios tagged Davis with a right. He seemed unfazed. But it was a round that put Barrios back into the fight. A Davis left uppercut with :34 left in the 10th was another fight-defining punch. Barrios walked to his corner gingerly—and was fighting more of Davis’ fight than he was his own.

Between the 10th and 11th rounds, Davis leaned over to take advice from all-time great Floyd Mayweather, Davis’ promoter. Davis walked through a brutal left hook and kept coming forward in the 11th.

A Davis left uppercut at 1:11 of the 11th put Barrios down a third time. As Davis applied more pressure to Barrios, referee Thomas Taylor stepped in and ended it at 2:13 of a scintillating fight.

“I knew he was hurt, I just had to catch him at the right time,” Davis said. “Floyd came to me and he told me I was down, and I knew I was down. He told me show me that you’re great.”

Davis was up 97-91 on Barry Lindenman’s scorecard and 96-92 on the scorecards of David Sutherland and Zachary Young.

“Tank’s explosive,” Barrios said. “He caught me slipping (in the eighth) and it’s boxing. At the end of the day, one punch can change the fight. That’s exactly what I felt happened. Congrats to him. Of course, I wanted to continue. I got up for a reason. I told everybody that I was going to show the Azteca Warrior that I am.”

“He has the potential to be one of the greats ever,” Mayweather said of Davis. “When I first met Tank when he was 14 or 15 years old, I told him I’d make him a world champion. And you’ll be one of the best someday. I’m proud of him.”

Another title shot awaits Erickson Lubin after mowing down Jeison Rosario

Erickson Lubin has gradually rebuilt himself, with the help of trainer Kevin Cunningham, and Saturday night may have proved that the promise that he once carried is now coming to fruition.

In a scheduled 12-round WBC super welterweight eliminator, Lubin had his way with former super welterweight world champion Jeison Rosario by stopping him with body shots in the sixth round. It marked the second-straight defeat for Rosario and thrust Lubin (24-1, 17 KOs) back into world title contention again with his sixth-straight victory.

“I just followed the game plan,” Lubin said. “I would just go back to my corner after each round and coach (Kevin) Cunningham and my team would just say, ‘Stick to the jab. Stay consistent with your jab.' I’m way faster than him and I knew he had good power and he was trying to counter me. So, I would fade him out and use my jab consistently.

“I started to hurt him in the body as soon as the first round started. I started with the body and I saw him grunt. So, I was able to hurt him to the body. I just wanted to distract him with the jab, then go downstairs. And I was able to get him out.

“Coach Cunningham is a Hall of Fame trainer. He just told me to not get too crazy when I get him hurt. We just wanted to systematically beat him down, and that’s what we did.”

Lubin controlled much of the early action. Things heated up in the third, when a Lubin right hook, followed by a straight left, buckled Rosario’s knees. In the last minute of the round, Lubin had Rosario (21-2-1, 14 KOs) backed against the ropes.

As the bell sounded to end the round, referee Jerry Cantu walked a staggered Rosario back to his corner. He didn’t look good.

Yet it was Rosario who wobbled Lubin with a left in the last 20 seconds of the fourth with a jab over a Lubin right. Rosario continued to attack in the fifth, while Lubin stood back and composed himself. Gradually, Lubin regained control.

“Right now, I feel so bad,” Rosario said. “There is no lesson to be learned yet, everything is so raw still. I lost again, and it’s so frustrating. I was convinced I was going to win. The fight started to turn in the second round. I was just trying to keep up and listen to my corner.”

Lubin was simply too good. A beautiful two-punch combination to the body followed by a right hook upstairs dropped Rosario. He barely rose to feet as he struggled to catch his breath. Lubin dropped him again moments later, forcing Cantu to wave it over at 1:42 of the sixth.  

“I want a shot at the world title next.” said Lubin, who since joining Cunningham is 6-0 after his crushing loss to Jermell Charlo in October 2017. “I want everyone at 154 pounds. I’m No. 1 in the WBC but I chose to fight Rosario. I don’t duck anybody. I want to say that I fought everyone in my division when I win the world title.”

Carlos Adames overpowers Alexis Salazar in three

Carlos Adames took the fight on two weeks’ notice. Alexis Salazar took the fight on a week’s notice and was looking for his 16th-straight victory. Both got together to replace the original bout between former world champion Julian “J-Rock” Williams against Brian Mendoza, after Williams was forced the back out with an elbow injury.

Fighting the 10-round bout at a contracted 157 pounds, Adames (20-1, 16 KOs) vanquished Salazar (23-4, 9 KOs) with a blunt, lead left hook on the chin to force referee Jim Korb to stop it at 2:59 of the third round in a scheduled 10-rounder. Only 55 seconds prior, Korb had vehemently warned Adames about hooking Salazar from behind with his left arm while punching him with his right.

“I was in control all of the time of the fight and that’s what produced turning around sometimes to get the rhythm to fight (Salazar),” Adames said. “I was working with the jab first to the body, so he could think that was still working with the jab, then I came with the left hook (on the knockout punch).”

Batyr Akhmedov stops Argenis Mendez in eight

Uzbekistan southpaw Batyr Akhmedov kept coming, and coming, and coming at Argenis Mendez, until the veteran from the Dominican Republic finally succumbed, with an eight-round technical knockout when Mendez could not answer the bell due to an injury to his right hand.

“The fight went as planned,” Akhmedov said. “We were expecting a tough fight like that. I've been out of the ring for a long time, so I needed to get those rounds in. My plan is to fight for the world title next. We knew he would be uncomfortable to fight and tricky. He was headbutting and elbowing me. It was good experience for me.”

Akhmedov (9-1, 8 KOs) won for the second-straight time since losing to Mario Barrios in September 2019. Akhmedov smothered Mendez (25-7-3, 12 KOs) throughout the scheduled 12-round WBA super lightweight title eliminator. Mendez fell to 1-2-2 in his last five fights. Akhmedov landed more power punches (115 (56 body shots)/306/37.6%) than Mendez landed punches (106 (13)/398/26.6%).

“I started feeling (injured) in the second and third round,” Mendez said. “My knuckles were broken and I couldn’t throw a punch anymore after I cut him with my right hand in the first round. I tried to keep fighting from the fourth round on, but to no avail. It was useless.”

On the undercard, super featherweight Viktor Slavinsky (13-0-1, 6 KOs) remained unbeaten with a 10-round decision over Leduan Barthelemy (13-0-1, 6 KOs). In an eight-round super lightweight bout, Andres Gutierrez (38-2-2, 25 KOs) and Angel Hernandez (17-16-3, 11 KOs) finished in a split-decision draw. Super middleweight Dalton Bodie (2-0, 2 KOs) stopped Trever Bradshaw (1-1) at :24 of the third round in a scheduled four-rounder. Super lightweight Stacey Selby (3-0, 3 KOs) finished William Smith (3-7-1, 3 KOs) at 2:26 of the third round of a scheduled four-rounder.

For a closer look at Davis vs Barrios, check out our fight night page. 

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