A look back at key takeaways from Saturday night's stacked SHOWTIME card at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Boxing is on the rise, as evidenced by Premier Boxing Champions’ final offering of 2019. A swanky—and knowledgeable—crowd of 14,129 were on hand at State Farm Arena for Atlanta, Georgia’s first world title match in over 20 years.
Those fans got their money’s worth on the SHOWTIME Championship Boxing televised card as undefeated two-time super featherweight champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis delivered a 12th-round TKO over a game Yuriorkis Gamboa in the main event.
So, what else did we learn on Saturday night? Here’s what we saw:
Davis Carries his KO Power Late
Davis administered punishment throughout the bout, scoring a knockout in the final round and showing that he carries fight-ending power from rounds one through 12. This was his first fight to go beyond nine rounds and while there were several lulls in the action, Davis picked it up when he needed to and closed the show like a boss.
Nevertheless, the new two-division world champion graded his performance a “C+.” Davis, 25, 23-0 (22 KOs) needed two tries to make the 135-pound weight limit on Friday, troubling as this was his first fight at lightweight. However, his ability to recognize that he can and must do better is a good sign. Particularly, if he does face modern Mexican great Leo Santa Cruz in 2020 as has been speculated.
Yuriorkis Gamboa is a Warrior
The former unified world featherweight champion suffered a ruptured Achilles in the second round yet fought on with every intention of winning. Gamboa didn’t come close but he never gave up, rising from knockdowns in the second and eighth rounds, firing back whenever he appeared hurt and even landing some telling blows in the tenth.
Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs) displayed a warrior’s heart—other fighters took notice. Fellow Cuban Yordenis Ugas, along with Adrien Broner and Robert Easter Jr. were but a few of the boxers who stopped by and spent time with Gamboa while he was being looked at by medics. At 38-years-old and having enjoyed a 12-year pro career filled with accomplishments, Gamboa will have to make some tough decisions once he’s healed.
The Ageless Wonders
Two accomplished veterans, 37-year-old Jean Pascal and 36-year-old Badou Jack, fought each other with the hunger of amateurs who had just turned pro. Pascal and Jack nearly stole the show on the card’s co-feature, warring for 12-rounds in what is likely a late-entry Fight of the Year candidate. Pascal started strong, even dropping Jack in the fourth. But Jack (22-3-3, 13 KOs) roared back down the stretch and returned the favor in the 12th.
Pascal (35-6-1, 20 KOs) would win a split decision to retain his world light heavyweight strap but there were no real losers in this bout. We hope to see a rematch in 2020.
Make Room for One More at 168
Perhaps Lionell Thompson should have moved down to super middleweight earlier. The long-time light heavyweight contender looked rejuvenated versus former world champion Jose Uzcategui, dropping Uzcategui (29-4, 24 KOs) in the first and holding on to win a 10-round unanimous decision in a major upset.
Thompson, 34, 22-5 (12 KOs), has a new lease on his career. Look for him to target a showdown versus undefeated IBF World 168-pound champion Caleb Plant or unbeaten WBC counterpart David Benavidez. He’d be a dangerous out for either one.
Welcome to Atlanta
The good people of A-town showed up and showed out at State Farm Arena. From sports and entertainment celebs to the hardcore fight fans, the city was well represented for the first world championship card in the city since Georgia native Evander Holyfield took on Vaughn Bean in 1998.
The 14,129 were also boisterous throughout, clearly impressed by what they saw that night. Hopefully they won’t have to wait another 20 years for boxing to return to the A.
Speaking of Holyfield, “The Real Deal” was omnipresent throughout fight week and prior, as excited as anybody to see boxing return to his home state. Former two-time world welterweight champion Paul “The Punisher” Williams was also active leading up to the fight. Williams, now confined to a wheelchair following a 2012 motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, was in good spirits, brightening each room with his unmistakable smile.
For a closer look at Davis vs Gamboa, check out our fight night page.