Unbeaten Davis looks to continue dominance in high-profile 130-pound title defense

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As America’s youngest reigning world champion, Gervonta Davis is a rising star at 130 pounds. And he seems to be born for the big stage.

Gervonta Davis and Liam Walsh

Gervonta Davis overwhelmed Liam Walsh in their 130-pound title fight in London in May, using his powerful left hand to score a third-round TKO and retain his world championship. (Mark Robinson/Showtime)

Gervonta Davis will make his second title defense Saturday night, taking on Francisco Fonseca on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Davis (18-0, 17 KOs) will be seeking his 10th straight knockout, and Fonseca (19-0-1, 13 KOs) is his third straight undefeated opponent.

Davis, a 22-year-old southpaw, has continued to dominate in the ring even as the quality of the competition has improved, starting with a third-round TKO of former world champion Cristobal Cruz, who was dropped twice in their October 2015 bout.

“The better the opponent, the better I am,” Davis said. “When it’s action-packed, that brings the best out of me.”

In January, Davis dethroned unbeaten Jose Pedraza as world champion via seventh-round knockout in Brooklyn, New York. He then traveled to London for his initial defense on May 20, when he dropped and stopped previously unbeaten southpaw Liam Walsh in Round 3 in front of a partisan British crowd.

He now looks to make another statement before the largest audience of his career.

“I've been stopping a lot of guys in training. I can't wait to get in the ring and give the fans a big knockout,” Davis said. “No one in boxing can punch as hard as me.

“I’m really excited to fight as the co-main event on the biggest card in combat sports history. I’m ready for Floyd Mayweather to pass his torch to me. … Gervonta Davis is gonna take over the sport of boxing.”

The better the opponent, the better I am. When it’s action-packed, that brings the best out of me. 130-pound world champion Gervonta Davis, who defends his title Saturday against Francisco Fonseca

Only one fighter, German Meraz, has gone the distance with Davis. But even in lasting six rounds with the slugging southpaw in October 2014, Meraz was knocked down twice and shut out on the judges’ scorecards.

Now Davis is preparing to face Fonseca, who has never been knocked out in his 20-fight pro career. The 23-year-old Costa Rican has stopped his last five opponents, capped by a third-round KO of Eliecer Lanzas in March, and will be fighting in the United States for the first time.

Davis has been preparing for Fonseca at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas under career-long cornerman and father figure Calvin Ford. It was Ford’s son, Quaadir Gurley, who introduced Davis to the sport when he was 7 years old at Baltimore’s Upton Boxing Gym.

Nicknamed “Tank” by an amateur coach for his large head, Davis spent time in foster care and group homes growing up in a rough section of Baltimore where crime and violence cost many friends and family members their freedom if not their lives.

“I was born to do this,” Davis said. “What I’ve been through in life has helped me.”

A three-time national Silver Gloves and 2012 national Golden Gloves champion, Davis wants to encourage troubled youth to find a brighter path after Gurley, who was shot to death in 2013, and Ford helped him.

“Boxing saved my life,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t be in this position if not for [Gurley] first teaching me how to fight, then introducing me to Coach Calvin. I used to even sleep at [Ford’s] house on school nights.

“I believe I’m here for a reason. That’s why I call myself, ‘The One.’ Kids in Baltimore really don’t have any guidance. What they’re missing is someone to look up to. I believe 100 percent that they’ll listen to me.”

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