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Tank Davis destroyed Frank Martin in the eighth to retain the WBA lightweight belt

by Joseph Santoliquito |

Gervonta “Tank” Davis is a boxer. His mind is a computer, able to destroy his opponents, knowing that eventually the hammer will come after he has thought it all out.

It came down to Frank ‘The Ghost’ Martin in the eighth round in front of 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 instincts, despite 421 days between fights, to defend the WBA lightweight title by stopping Martin at 1:29 of the eighth. Davis was leading 67-66 at the time on judges Tim Cheatham, Steve Weisfeld, and Max De Luca’s cards.

Martin (18-1, 12 KOs) and Davis started slowly, with Martin trying to establish a jab and Davis sitting on his left foot. Martin landed lefts to the body, even lifting Davis as the two grappled in the final 30 minutes of the round.

Martin started the second quickly, hitting a harmless little shot on Davis. Holding his guard up, Davis kept coming forward, sneaking up and sitting in front of Martin. With 1:11 left in the round, Davis landed a counter left to the body, and that seemed to make Martin jump. With 20 seconds left, Martin caught Davis again. For two, it looked like Martin was in the lead.

As he had done so many times before, it again appeared that Davis, The Ring’s No. 2 lightweight behind Vasiliy Lomachenko, he was taking mental notes. He was going to tap Martin down with increasing intensity, looking for weakness.

With 1:32 left in the third, Davis left to the body landed Martin’s right hand. Martin was a very active player and could have won that round, too.

Martin promised that he would try to end it and make it a bad fight. His priority was to destroy Davis’ rhythm. With 30 seconds left in the fourth, Davis nailed Martin to the body, causing Martin to drop his hands again.

By the fifth hour, Davis was getting his punch line. His Martin landed a right hook, and Martin kept hitting Davis with lefts, causing Davis’ cheek to swell.

Martin had success in the middle of the ring. With 1:55 left in the sixth, Martin cut Davis with a lead left hand to the face. Martin would also make Davis miss—and miss on purpose. Davis pressured Martin hard in the sixth, landing a left to the head.

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

With 2:30 left in the seventh, Davis tagged Martin with a left to the body, and was timing Martin’s left with a left uppercut. Martin’s energy level was gradually decreasing. Urged to “keep moving,” in his corner, Martin was flat-footed and about to be hit, and Davis made sure of it, cutting Martin with a left to the face.

The seventh was Davis’ best round.

With 1:47 left in the eighth, Davis sent Martin off in the corner, and continued to pound Martin with lefts. Davis surprised Martin with a left uppercut, then followed it up with a straight left to the head, which knocked Martin out.

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

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

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