‘Tank’ Davis vs. Lomachenko? Will Benavidez get Canelo next?

Sports

Gervonta Davis, one of boxing’s top stars, cemented his status Saturday as one of the sport’s best fighters with another highlight-reel KO.

One of Davis’ patented left uppercuts dazed Frank Martin before a left cross sent the defenseless challenger crashing to the mat for the count of 10 in Round 8. Davis, ESPN’s No. 7 pound-for-pound boxer, could meet Vasiliy Lomachenko later this year in a lightweight summit meeting.

“Tank” Davis’ successful WBA lightweight title defense was billed as the 100th championship fight at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. The bout was Davis’ first in 14 months — a seventh-round TKO of Ryan Garcia last April — and first since a 44-day jail stint last summer.

David Benavidez made his light heavyweight debut in the PBC PPV co-feature with a comfortable unanimous-decision victory over former champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk. While Benavidez didn’t secure the stoppage, he did impress as he looks toward far bigger fights at 175 pounds.

Elsewhere Saturday, Australia’s Liam Paro scored a major upset with a decision win over Subriel Matias to capture the IBF junior welterweight title.

Here’s what we learned from each of those three fights, along with the title implications following the results:

Davis explosive in return; could Lomachenko be next?

Davis (30-0, 28 KOs) reminded everyone he’s one of the sport’s most-electrifying fighters with another spectacular KO victory. Martin was game and banked some early rounds with a sharp jab. All three judges gave Martin the first three rounds.

Fighting in his first title bout, Martin was able to mark up Davis’ right eye with left hands as he boxed off the back foot, but “Tank” is usually a slow starter. This night was no different.

Davis’ educated pressure began to wear Martin down behind his southpaw jab and followed with explosive left hands. It was a matter of time until one of those shots landed flush, and when it did, Martin couldn’t absorb it. He had never been knocked down before but this was his first fight on the elite level.

With another opponent out of the way, calls will resume for Baltimore’s Davis to fight in a title unification bout for the first time at age 29. Preliminary talks have been held to match Davis against IBF lightweight champion Lomachenko. Ukraine’s Lomachenko, ESPN’s No. 1 lightweight, is a future Hall of Famer.

Davis, ESPN’s No. 2 lightweight, could also look to a fall fight with Shakur Stevenson. Stevenson defends his WBC 135-pound title vs. Artem Harutyunyan on July 6, and will be a promotional free agent afterward, clearing an easier path for a fight with Davis.


Benavidez dominates in 175-pound debut

One of the sport’s fastest-rising stars, Benavidez has long lobbied for a shot at Canelo Alvarez, but when that wasn’t successful, he moved up to light heavyweight.

That first 175-pound bout came vs. Gvozdyk, the former lineal champion who once TKOed Adonis Stevenson but was sent into retirement by Artur Beterbiev in 2019.

After 3 ½ years out of the ring, Gvozdyk returned last year with three bouts against lower-tier opposition. He performed well against Benavidez to last the distance, but Gvozdyk never threatened to win the fight.

At his new weight, Benavidez didn’t unload with his usual volume, but showed off improved defense. He slipped many of Gvozdyk’s shots while he applied pressure and caught many punches on his arms.

Benavidez battered Gvozdyk’s body and prevailed via scores of 119-109, 117-111 and 116-112. Next up could be a fall fight with David Morrell, a super middleweight contender who’s also moving up to 175 pounds. The Cuban will make his light heavyweight debut Aug. 3 vs. Radivoje Kalajdzic.

The marquee fight for Benavidez — outside of an Alvarez meeting — is the winner of the Oct. 12 Beterbiev-Dmitry Bivol undisputed light heavyweight championship bout.

The concern now rests on Benavidez’s power at his new weight. Despite all the damage he dealt Gvozdyk, he never had the Ukrainian in serious trouble. Against a better fighter such us Beterbiev or Bivol, Benavidez will likely need to be better.

“I was trying to get the feel for the light heavyweight division,” said Benavidez, 27. “These guys, they hit a little bit harder up here. … Two weeks ago I suffered a cut in my eye. … I had a torn tendon on my right hand, and I didn’t think I was going to make it tonight, but we pushed through it.”


Paro upset over Matias shakes up 140-pound division

For the second time in three months, there’s a major upset in a junior welterweight title fight. First it was Ryan Garcia, who floored Devin Haney three times in a decision win in April, though the result stands to be overturned after Garcia’s positive test for the banned substance ostarine.

Now it’s Paro, who defined the odds in a 140-pound title fight with a victory over Matias in enemy territory.

Paro (24-0, 15 KOs) stood his ground in the face of Matias’ relentless pressure and exchanged with the power-puncher. The win appeared far from fluky as the 28-year-old made adjustments and showed off a versatile arsenal in a career-best performance.

It was yet another road victory for Paro, who traveled to the U.S. in December for a sixth-round TKO win over Montana Love. After the pair of wins — this one over ESPN’s No. 2 140-pounder — the newly minted champion could find himself in the division’s top five when ESPN’s rankings are updated next week.

The division is hot. Jack Catterall rose to No. 4 in the rankings after he defeated Josh Taylor in the rematch last month. Teofimo Lopez, the lineal champion, defends his IBF title against Steve Claggett on June 29 in Miami.

There’s now plenty of attractive matchups for Paro. Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said he’d like to deliver a title defense for him in Australia, where Tim Tszyu and George Kambosos Jr. have competed in front of sizable crowds.

The most appetizing of all is a rematch with Matias, especially Down Under. The fight was a slugfest, and a return bout would be welcomed by fans.

Matias is with Matchroom, and so, too, are Catterall and Richardson Hitchins.

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