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Tank Davis Lowers Boom on Frank Martin in an Ode to MGM Grand KOs

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LAS VEGAS – By the time the eighth round arrived, the viewfinder from the “Tank” was fixed on its target. The cannon was lowered and Gervonta “Tank” Davis fired the howitzer left hand that ended the challenge of Frank “The Ghost” Martin in that moment.

The destructive, climactic knockout to close Saturday’s fight was a fitting addition to any highlight reel including some of the great stoppages the historic MGM Grand Garden Arena has seen through the 100 championship fight nights it has hosted.

Davis laying waste to Martin would fit brutally alongside the wondrous finishes that these four walls have witnessed: George Foreman leveling Michael Moorer, Ricky Hatton being flattened by Manny Pacquiao and Pacquaio himself being buried face-first by Juan Manel Marquez.

Davis retained his WBA lightweight title at the 1:29 mark of the decisive round, but the writing had been on the wall by then.

This is what the 13,249 in attendance had come to see.

With Martin awaiting his fate in the ring and his entrance music over, a hushed anticipation fell inside the venue.

The “Ghostbusters” theme segued into “Nun 2 Me” by OTR Chaz, who rapped Davis to the ring, and the crowd went wild – and not for the last time. (Davis’ coach, Calvin Ford, wore a black T-shirt with a glittery Ghostbusters motif on the back.)

It was a far cry from the collective groans around the MGM lobby on Tuesday, when Davis shunned his own Grand Arrival to kick-start the promotion. But the Baltimore banger’s eventual arrival in the MGM Grand for Wednesday’s press conference was like a grenade of excitement being tossed into the historic venue as those in and around the fight waited for the explosion.

Davis didn’t just shake off 14 months of inactivity and frustration here. He vented. He fumed about poor promotion, hence his Tuesday no-show. He had done some house arrest time last year, then went to prison for failing to adhere to the rules.

He said he had learned lessons, but he had lost ground and lost momentum.

What Davis has not lost is the popularity and intrigue that surround his fights. He was handed an ear-splitting ovation as he grooved his way to the ring. Fans eagerly awaited the detonation they paid for, hoping to see fellow southpaw Martin improve Davis’ stats to 30-0 with 28 KOs.

Martin was sharp and in the zone coming out of the traps. His jab was typically snappy and he slotted home two or three early left hands.

Davis, hands high, then started tracking Martin and began to bring his left hand to the dance. He found Martin’s body with it, too, and caught Martin ducking low with an uppercut. With Martin’s back to the ropes, Tank let his hands go with a flurry, but Martin sprawled forward and claimed him, nullifying the attack.

In the third, Martin bit on a feint and Davis chuckled. He had attempted to get Martin to flinch at the press conference but only prompted in antagonizing Martin into firing something back at him. Not so here, where the danger was all too real.

Martin carried his right hand high, clearly wary of the danger posed by Davis’ left hand. The challenger would step forward exploratively and timidly, like a crab peering out of its shell to check if there’s danger.

A Martin right-left-right drew surprised gasps from the crowd, and the fighters swapped a verbal exchange at the bell.

It was heating up in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Because of the power Tank carries, every time he swung and missed, the Las Vegas audience of largely high-rollers and celebrities ooh-ed and ahh-ed.

The stars were out for Davis from the worlds of boxing, football and music. Davis has become boxing’s hot-ticket item. In the crowd were musicians 2 Chainz, Saweetie, Lil Jon, Cardi B and Flavor Flav, film producer Gavin Maloof, business mogul Mark Davis, footballers Micah Parsons, Jayden Daniels, CeeDee Lamb, Davante Adams, NBA stars including Damian Lillard and Stephen Jackson, and a host of fighters from James Toney to Andy Ruiz and Rafael Ruelas to Librado Andrade.

Martin, trained by Derrick James and promoted by Errol Spence Jr.’s Man Down Promotions, was peppering away with his jab, but Davis was starting to close the distance between them. That was worrying for the Detroit man and his supporters.

More so, there should have been concern when Davis came out with a swagger in the fifth, hands low, attacking from distance and having some triumphs. 

Importantly, the champion was not getting frustrated when Martin grabbed hold of him, forcing referee Harvey Dock to intervene and break them up.

Davis landed a crunching left uppercut-right hook. The punches were technically impressive and brutally effective. 

Davis was having more and more success, and while you could put the difference down to speed and skill, the main gap was in power. It was a Tank against a BB gun and increasingly ominous that, as the rounds ticked by, Davis came out looking more relaxed each time.

Martin’s level of awareness and concentration didn’t deviate – he could not afford for it to – but it looked like only one fighter was enjoying it in there. One of them was at work, one was at play.

With Martin caught in a corner in the sixth (a sight that was becoming common), Davis thundered in some left hands, tracked Martin to another corner and cracked home a couple more. Davis also decided to shovel in some uppercuts into Martin’s midsection for good measure.

From the seventh, Davis started to close the show. He lashed the challenger with a right hand, clobbered Martin with an overhand left and still worked the body before moving up top to finish his combinations.

Martin defiantly spat back, but he was being outgunned. He was taking stick on the ropes and the crowd was getting louder and louder, sensing the build to a climax.

By that point, a sea of camera phones had been raised, red buttons on display around floor level, hoping to capture what felt inevitable.

It was a torrid round for Martin. His odds for survival were plummeting. His odds of victory could no longer be priced. 

There were more gulps from the crowd as Davis effortlessly flowed in behind both hands to start the eighth and he again trapped Martin in a corner. 

Then, to echo the famous words of Jim Lampley when he was working for HBO and covered George Foreman’s miraculous turnaround against Michael Moorer here to capture the world heavyweight title at the age of 45, in this building: “It happened.”

Tank slammed home brutality and violence with both hands, and a clinical left hand spun Martin around in his boots. 

Martin, behind 67-66 on all three cards at the time of the stoppage, crashed onto his back, looking up at the historic MGM lights, and referee Harvey Dock waved it off.

For only a split second, it looked like Martin might try to muster something to haul himself back to his feet, but the spirit had left the “Ghost” and he remained on the canvas.

The roof lifted off the green fight palace at the foot of the Las Vegas Strip, and the roar of the crowd got even louder as Davis almost instantaneously climbed the top rope and somersaulted backwards to earth. The finish also rendered the fighters’ bitter quarrel over what happened in a sparring session between them several years ago redundant.

What direction Tank rolls in now remains to be seen. Old foe Ryan Garcia was on the ring apron to congratulate Davis, but his fighting future hangs in the balance after two positive tests for PEDs following his April 20 fight with Devin Haney. 

More likely is a bout with veteran Ukrainian maestro Vasiliy Lomachenko, the IBF champion.

“For sure, yeah for sure,” Davis said when confronted with the prospect of a Lomachenko matchup. “I’m willing to fight all of them. … My prediction [for Loma]? Ass whooping time.”

Lomachenko, of course, is one of the best fighters of the modern generation, a defensive genius and someone who is awfully difficult to locate in the sights of a viewfinder.

But then, tonight, Davis made a “Ghost” disappear.

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