22-year-old Gervonta Davis, of Baltimore, started his ring walk to the sounds of Michael Jackson, attired with sequin jacket and hat. During the introductions, at the Copper Box Arena, London, England, he had a huge grin. A sell-out crowd, hostile fans, the first defence of his IBF super featherweight title and the youngster was completely unfazed. He was enjoying every second.
31-year-old challenger Liam Walsh was in the opposite corner, having already witnessed his brother, Ryan, win on the undercard. The undefeated boxer, from Norfolk, was looking to add a World title to his collection of belts that include Brtish & Commonwealth.
The first bell rang and both men looked to gain the centre of the ring, poking out southpaw jabs, to establish their range. After a minute we saw Davis throwing his vaunted, powerful left hook – not connecting but Walsh was on full alert. It was a quiet opening round, more landed by the champion.
A more positive, determined looking Walsh started the second round, Davis happy to box and wait for the counter-shots. Walsh slipping in a nice right, when in close. A showboating swinging left got through from the champion and an accurate, persistent, straight right hand took the round.
The third round saw ‘Tank’ come-out more purposeful, looking to get down to business and stamp his authority on the contest. Sweeping left hands started hitting the challenger, who was looking uncomfortable, as he tried to hold on. The lefts just couldn’t miss, as he pursued a groggy looking Walsh around the ring. Davis (18-0) never lets his opponent off-the-hook, if he smells blood. Chopping lefts sent the challenger to the canvas. Liam slowly got to his feet but his legs were betraying him, as he swayed trying to establish his balance. The fight continued, Davis resumed with the left hands and the referee quickly stepped in.
No arguments from me on the timing of the stoppage by Michael Alexander. Walsh (21-1) had done little up to the point of the knockdown, seemingly unable to get into the fight. The challenger incapable of getting out of the way, of the champions fast, powerful left-hand.
This was a learning experience for the champion. He fought in front of a large, boisterous crowd and was top of the bill. He soaked up the atmosphere and he fought in a calm, patient manner. He showed maturity beyond his years. Technically, he looks superb and has that killer instinct. Time is certainly on his side and while there are calls for him to face the other champions, in the division, like Miguel Berchelt, Jezreel Corrales and P4P star Vasyl Lomachenko. I’d like to see him given the chance to develop, making several defences of his belt – still great fights with the likes of Mario Barrios, Tevin Farmer high in the IBF rankings. Liam Walsh will regroup and go again, as he is a quality fighter who just couldn’t get going.
Fight Rating (Out of 5)
The Frank Warren promoted undercard saw Heavyweight Daniel Dubois, 19, dispatch of the larger David Howe (13-6). Dubois (3-0) landed a hard right, by the ropes, to have his man out of there in 40 seconds of the first.
Anthony Yarde (11-0) took the BBBofC Southern Area light heavyweight title, from brave but limited Chris Hobbs (6-2-1). Yarde took his time but his crippling body shots dropped his opponent six times. The end coming in the fourth, when Hobbs corner through in the towel.
Ryan Walsh (21-2-1) won the Lonsdale belt outright with a solid victory over Belfast’s Marco McCullough (17-4). The end coming in the eleventh round.