'Tank' Davis knocks out Martin in the 8th round to keep WBA lightweight title


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LAS VEGAS — Gervonta "Tank" Davis made a triumphant return to the ring after more than a year away, once again showing why he is one of the top pound-for-pound boxers.

Armed with a punching power not typically associated with a lightweight, Davis made full use if his skills Saturday night in dominating Frank Martin and knocking him out at 1:29 of the eighth round to retain the WBA championship.

"I knew the way he fell he wasn't getting back up," Davis said.

Davis delivered a right and two lefts to Martin's face to send the Indianapolis resident to the canvass for his first career loss after he won his first 18 fights. Tank again proved to be one of boxing's most ferocious punchers, improving to 30-0 — all but two by knockout.

He predicted before the fight an eight-round knockout.

"I was just throwing that out there. Next fight in the first round," Davis said, smiling.

This fight showed why Davis, a Baltimore native and resident, was a substantial favorite at 7-1, according to BetMGM Sportsbook.

That bout between 29-year-olds headlined the 100th championship fight night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which has been supplanted by T-Mobile Arena as Las Vegas' prime spot for combat sports. To mark the occasion, four title fights took place, including the interim WBC light heavyweight championship that David Benavidez won by unanimous decision over Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

But there was no doubt who the main attractions were on this night, and that was clear at Wednesday's press conference. Davis and Martin bantered back and forth during the Wednesday news conference. Then when the two boxers did the traditional poses afterward, Davis pretended to take a swing at Martin. Martin flinched and Davis left the podium laughing.

This was Davis' first fight since April 22, 2023, when he delivered a devastating left uppercut that handed Ryan Garcia a seventh-round knockout at T-Mobile Arena. Garcia, wearing a shirt that read "Tank's No. 1 Fan," congratulated and hugged the champion after the victory over Martin.

The 421-day layoff showed early as Martin won two of the first three rounds, including a right that caught Davis in the face.

That seemed to wake up Davis, who then took over the fight by repeatedly sending Martin into ropes and corners. Davis appeared ready to finish off Martin with several hard blows in the sixth round, bringing the pro-Tank crowd of 13,239 to its feet.

"I had to get in the right range," Davis said. "He has a decent jab. I had to break him down as the fight was going on."

Then in the eighth, Davis ended any doubts by charging after Martin early then knocking him out midway through the round. As Martin was being counted out, Davis bounced on the second rung of the ropes, jumped off, and then went to the top cords and did a backflip and stuck the landing.

"I got caught with a shot that I didn't see," Martin said. "It came from underneath."

Benavidez (29-0) made a successful debut in his move up from super middleweight. The Las Vegas resident defeated Gvozdyk (20-2), a Ukraine native who trains in Oxnard, California, by scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 119-109.

Alberto Puello (23-0) of the Dominican Republic won the WBC interim super lightweight championship with a split decision over Gary Russell (17-1) of Capitol Heights, Maryland. Two judges gave Puello the victory with scores of 115-112 and 114-113 and another had it for Russell 118-109.

Dominican middleweight champion Carlos Adames (24-1) retained his WBC belt with a unanimous decision over Terrell Gausha (24-4-1) of Encino, California. Two judges scored the fight 118-110 and the other had it 119-109.

Heisman Trophy winner and Washington Commanders rookie quarterback Jayden Daniels was among those in attendance. Milwaukee Bucks star Damian Lillard, Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan and coach Antonio Pierce and owner Mark Davis of the Las Vegas Raiders also were in the crowd.

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AP sports: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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