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Tank Davis destroys Frank Martin in eight to retain WBA lightweight belt


Gervonta Davis catches Frank Martin with a right during their WBA 135-pound title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

by Joseph Santoliquito | 

Gervonta “Tank” Davis is a boxing savant. His mind is a computer, able to break down his opponents, knowing eventually the hammer will land after he has everything figured out.

It landed on Frank ‘The Ghost” Martin in the eighth round before 13,249 on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Davis (30-0, 28 knockouts) successfully used his brick hands and innate boxing sense, despite 421 days between fights, to defend the WBA lightweight title by stopping Martin at 1:29 of the eighth. Davis was ahead 67-66 at the time on judges Tim Cheatham, Steve Weisfeld, and Max De Luca’s scorecards.

Martin (18-1, 12 KOs) and Davis started slowly, with Martin trying to establish the jab and Davis sitting on his back left foot. Martin pecked away with the left to the body, and even lifted Davis when the two clinched in the last 30 seconds of the round.

Martin started the second quickly, tapping a few innocuous body shots on Davis. Holding his guard high, Davis kept coming forward, stalking and staying in front of Martin. With 1:11 left in the round, Davis struck with a counter left to the body, and that seemed to make Martin jumpy. With 20 seconds left, Martin gripped up Davis again. Through two, it appeared Martin had a lead.

As he had done so many times before, it also appeared as if Davis, The Ring’s No. 2 lightweight behind Vasiliy Lomachenko, was taking mental notes. He would chisel Martin down in increments, looking for vulnerabilities.

With 1:32 left in the third, a Davis left to the body brought Martin’s right hand down. Martin was the more active fighter and he could have arguably won that round, too.

Martin, The Ring’s No. 5-rated lightweight, promised he would try to muck it up and make it an ugly fight. His main priority was to ruin Davis’ rhythm. With around 30 seconds left in the fourth, Davis nailed Martin to body, causing Martin to once again lower his hands.

By the fifth, Davis was finding his punching range. His popped Martin with a right hook, and Martin kept tapping Davis with counter lefts, causing Davis’ right cheek to swell.

Martin had success in the middle of the ring. With 1:55 left in the sixth, Martin clipped Davis with a lead left hand to the face. Martin was also making Davis miss—and blatantly miss. Davis did press Martin more in the sixth, landing lefts to the head.

After six, Calvin Ford, Davis’ trainer, told him, “We need all of these rounds.”

With 2:30 left in the seventh, Davis tagged Martin with a left to the body, and he was looking to time Martin’s lefts with counter left uppercuts. Martin’s energy level was gradually depleting. Urged to “keep moving,” from his corner, Martin was flat footed and there to be hit, and Davis made sure of it, clipping Martin with a left to the face.

The seventh was Davis’ best round.

With 1:47 left in the eighth, Davis trapped Martin in the corner, and kept smacking Martin with overhand lefts. Davis stunned Martin with a left uppercut, then followed it with straight left to the head, which knocked out Martin.

Referee Harvey Dock reached the count of 10 at 1:29 of the eighth.


Joseph Santoliquito is a Hall of Fame, award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Follow @JSantoliquito

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