Davis Stops Romero Before Star-Studded Crowd

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By Lem Satterfield

Gervonta Davis’ fights guarantee high-drama, celebrity-filled crowds and knockout victories, and Saturday night’s clash with Rolando Romero was no exception.

“Tank” Davis scored a highlight reel sixth-round stoppage of Romero, defending his WBA 135-pound title before a sold-out arena record 18,970 fans at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Tank is the biggest puncher out of the guys at 130 and 135,” said trainer Stephen Edwards. ”I don’t care what anybody says: He deserves top pound-for-pound consideration.”

Previously unbeaten Rolando Romero (left) rolled to all fours and rose on unsteady legs from a counter left hand by WBA 135-pound champion Gervonta Davis. Referee David Fields (right) waved an end to the fight. (Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

The 27-year-old Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) won his fourth straight pay-per-view match in defeating Romero (14-1, 12 KOs), having consistently produced between 200,000 and 230,000 pay-per-view buys.

Davis knocked out Romero in a star-packed venue including Madonna, tennis star Naomi Osaka, television personality and former NFL star Michael Strahan, former NFL running back LeSean McCoy, Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson and other current and former NBA players.

Davis’ knockout was his third in as many appearances at Barclays.

“This meant a lot to come back to Barclays, where I won my first belt,” said Davis, whose 96-percent knockout ratio ranks second among world champions to that of IBF/WBC 175-pound titleholder Artur Beterbiev (17–0, 17 KOs).

“I knew my Baltimore fans were going to come, but I also have a huge fan base in New York. So to see them show up was amazing. It wasn’t just me who won tonight, I think it was the whole [sport of boxing] that won tonight.”

Rolando Romero (left) fell face-first into the ropes from a counter left hand by WBA 135-pound champion Gervonta Davis (right), resulting in Davis’ sixth-round stoppage victory. (Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

A five-time, three-division title winner, Davis delivered the highest-grossing boxing match at Barclays, which was hosting its first post-pandemic fight since heavyweight Robert Helenius’ fourth-round knockout of Adam Kownacki in March 2020.

There was talk that the bout with Romero might be Davis’ last fight with Mayweather Promotions, but the champion hugged the company’s CEO, Leonard Ellerbe, at the post-fight press conference, stating, “We’re still with Mayweather Promotions, baby!”

“Gervonta Davis is a terrific fighter who does a phenomenal job inside of the ring,” Ellerbe said. “He has a great trainer in Calvin Ford, and when all of these things are working together, this is what you get. That’s big. It shows that we know what we’re doing.”

So did Davis against the 5-foot-8 Romero, who had vowed an early knockout against the 5-foot-5½ Davis.

“Even when we weighed in, I knew that I could out-think him, easily. I knew that I was going to out-box him,” Davis said.  “I thought I was going to wind up stopping him in the later rounds, but I knew he was strong off of the first punch he threw.”

Romero troubled Davis with a timely jab, twice forcing the champion to clinch after landing hard second- and fifth-round right hands.

“He caught me with an early shot, and I knew I had to stay out of the way. But I knew that down the stretch, I was gonna break him down,” Davis said. “I knew he would run into something. I was just trying to figure out his range and see how hard he hits. But he definitely has power.”

Davis ended matters with 21 seconds left in the sixth. Davis’ head-jolting, counter-left hand to the face sent Romero crashing forward into the ropes and eventually onto his butt.

Romero rolled to all fours before rising on unsteady leg. Referee David Fields waved an end to the fight. Davis led, 49-46 and 48-47, on two cards and trailed, 48-47, on the third.

“I want the fight again,” said a defiant Romero, 26. “I exposed him and won every single round. I jumped into something and ate a stupid shot.”

Davis compared his fight-ending blow to the right hand by Juan Manuel Marquez that floored southpaw Manny Pacquiao once each in the third and final round of his come-from-behind, sixth-round knockout victory in December 2012. The blow left Pacquiao knocked out cold and in a prone position.

“[It was] something like when Manny Pacquiao got caught. The crazy thing is that I didn’t even throw it that hard. He just ran into it. He just ran into it,” Davis said.

WBA 135-pound champion Gervonta Davis “is a terrific fighter who does a phenomenal job inside of the ring,” said Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe after Davis stopped Rolando Romero on Saturday before a record 18,970 fans at the Barclays Center. (Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

A similar scenario played out in October 2020 for Davis’ sixth-round knockout of four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz, who was knocked out and stopped for the first time in his career by Davis’ ripping left uppercut.

“That was a different shot than the one against Santa Cruz, which just shows you that a focused Tank Davis is a dangerous Tank Davis,” said Ford, Davis’ career-long trainer. “That’s a factor, which speaks for itself in that Tank’s an exciting fighter.”

Davis yet again displayed “an elite IQ,” according to Edwards.

“Tank knew [Romero] was a threat, and his punches had heat on them. Rolly also has reflexes where you can’t just hit him when you want to,” Edwards said. “Tank was trying to take Rolly into deep waters, moving and not allowing Rolly to get set. Tank felt the impact of Rolly’s punches and used his legs to box Rolly and not get touched. While boxing, he got Rolly to run into a money shot.”

“I’ve never seen Tank under-perform, which says a lot about his courage, character and integrity…,” said retired two-time 147-pound champion Shawn Porter, who attended the fight and is a Showtime and Premier Boxing Champions analyst and host of The Porter Way Podcast.

“Tank is a sharpshooter who is very vast and a very good counter puncher who can throw the fight punch at the right time,” said Porter, who called Davis the best fighter at 130, 135 and 140 pounds.  “Gervonta Davis is a sellout and a main attraction in Los Angeles and everywhere else when he’s from Baltimore. From a media standpoint, it’s long past the time to give this man the credit he deserves.”

Davis’ victory preceded this Saturday’s 135-pound unification battle of unbeatens in Melbourne, Australia, between IBF/WBA and WBO super titleist George Kambosos Jr. (20-0, 10 KOs) and WBC counterpart Devin Haney (27-0, 15 KOs).

“If you win, and you’re saying all of that. If you win … let’s make the fight happen since you wanna talk crazy,” said Davis of Haney, who must grant a rematch to Kambosos if he wins. “Let’s do that. I wanna fight you if you win. Devin Haney. Just know that the winner [of Haney-Kambosos] can come and see me.”

Edited by Richard Pretorius and Matthew B. Hall

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