Gervonta Davis shows 'a little rust,' then KO's Frank Martin

June 16, 2024, 1:19 AM

LAS VEGAS -- Gervonta Davis packed a full house into the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday for his first appearance in 14 months and then set off a frenzy with a vicious knockout.

Davis (30-0, 28 KOs) knocked out Frank Martin with a left hand at 1:29 of the eighth round to successfully defend his WBA lightweight championship. It was Davis' first fight since an equally stunning knockout of Ryan Garcia in April 2023. It was also his first appearance since he served 44 days in a Baltimore detention center last summer for violating the terms of a house arrest stemming from a hit-and-run crash in November 2020 that injured four people.

"Yeah, there's a little rust, but it's OK. I'm back," Davis said. "A couple rounds, I feel as though I ain't warm up completely how I wanted to. I did warm up, but I got cold as the fight was going on before me. But it's OK. No excuses."

All three judges had Davis ahead 67-66 on the scorecards at the time of stoppage. Martin actually swept the first three rounds, but it was all Davis the rest of the way.

Davis took his time early on as he calmly walked Martin down but rarely opened up with his notorious power. He started to settle in by Round 4, however, and his power had a visible effect on Martin. The challenger reacted strongly to several of Davis' feints, which drew laughs from both Davis and the crowd of 13,249 that paid to witness his return.

A knockout seemed all but inevitable by the seventh, as Martin continued to cede ground and found himself trapped in the corner. Davis kept a steady pressure on and expertly picked his spots. He landed good shots to the body in the fourth round and brought the crowd to its feet in the sixth, seventh and eighth rounds.

Davis delivered the finish with a left uppercut, straight left combination along the ropes. It was a fitting result for what was promoted as the 100th championship fight at the MGM.

After knocking Martin out, Davis climbed onto the ropes and stuck a backflip in celebration.

"Boom, that's what it was," Davis said of the left hand that finished the fight. "The brick just finished it off. I've been training since I was 7 years old, competing since I was 8. You know what I mean? So it's like a second nature, you know what I mean? It's just about staying focused and making sure my mind is on the goal, and that's always to come out on top."

Martin admitted his lack of movement in the later rounds led to the knockout, although it didn't appear as though he truly had the ability to get away from Davis' pressure. He circled away from Davis' dangerous left hand well in the early going, but once Davis visibly started to ramp up his volume, Martin had no answer.

"I felt like in the beginning I was in control, then I got a little too comfortable," Martin said. "I got comfortable chilling on the ropes, trying to find that bigger shot. It wasn't presenting itself. I stopped doing my movement. ... He came in and landed a big shot, and it was a shot I didn't see. Really, I just didn't see the shot."

Davis, of Baltimore, will have options for his next bout, including potential meetings with IBF titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko, WBC titleholder Shakur Stevenson and WBO titleholder Denys Berinchyk.