AT the end of the ninth round of his match with fellow unbeaten Mario Barrios, Gervonta Davis was paid a visit in the corner by his promoter, friend and mentor, Floyd Mayweather, who came with a message. “You are down on the unofficial scorecards,” Mayweather informed Davis, who was listening intently. The urgency was there and Davis could sense that, but in actuality he need not have been too worried, being that he was officially ahead on all three cards.

Until finding the finishing punches to end it at 2-13 of the 11th round, Davis was extended a lot harder than he might have anticipated. But give credit to Barrios, the secondary WBA super-lightweight bauble-holder going in (Josh Taylor holds the recognised WBA strap). Barrios got off to an excellent start, controlling behind the jab over the first three rounds from mid-ring. Davis started to subtly turn things around in the fourth, getting Barrios to back up for the first time in the fight, but was still not punching much.

Davis finally warmed to the task in the fifth. From the southpaw stance he landed a series of lefts which cut the San Antonian over the right eye, but Barrios, the much bigger man, engaged in exchanges with some success. Barrios moved side to side, in and out, making it difficult for Davis, from Baltimore, to reach him. Davis’ inability to hurt Barrios over the first seven rounds must have been frustrating, but with one explosive right hook early in the eighth, he put to rest the notion that he might not be able to carry his power with him to a higher weight class.

Gervonta Davis
Amanda Westcott/Showtime

The force of the blow sent Barrios crashing down to the canvas for the first time in his career. He scrambled to his feet, but a left hook dropped him again. The crowd, announced at 16,570 at the State Farm Arena, was in a frenzy. More than half the round remained. Barrios was in desperate trouble as Davis poured it on. But Barrios showed his quality by making it to the bell. Now the question was if Davis had punched himself out. Certainly it appeared the case as Barrios surged in the ninth, forcing Davis to the ropes and seeming to shake him with a left hook at one point.

Davis responded to Mayweather’s visit, but a highly motivated Barrios met him head on in a thrilling 10th round, in which both landed frequently to the head and body. But in virtually any battle of attrition, the man with the greater firepower usually prevails. A left hook to the pit of the stomach in the 11th dropped Barrios for a seven-count. He struggled up but his body language was now more along the lines of surviving than it was winning. Davis wasted no time in forcing him to the ropes and landing a powerful left hook which wobbled Barrios. He turned away to retreat, but was clearly in trouble when referee Thomas Taylor made a timely intervention at 2-13. At the time of the stoppage, Davis led 97-91 on one scorecard and 96-92 on the other two.

“I went up two weight divisions and got the job done,” said Davis, who laid claim to having won a ‘world’ title at 140lbs. Hogwash… As spectacular as Davis was, Josh Taylor is the only one who can rightly say that he is the legitimate super-lightweight champion of the world.

On the undercard of this Showtime PPV event, presented by Premier Boxing Champions, Erickson Lubin won his WBC super-welterweight title eliminator against former WBA/IBF belt-holder Jeison Rosario, stopping him at 1-42 of the sixth round.

Lubin, from Orlando, hurt Rosario badly in the third, but had to survive a rough patch himself in the following round when he was wobbled by a left hook that had him holding on. But southpaw Lubin was the stronger man. A pair of body blows, followed by a stiff jab, dropped Dominican Rosario in the sixth. Rosario did not offer any resistance after regaining his feet and was decked again. Lubin hit him while he was down, but it made no difference as to the final outcome. Soon after starting his count, referee Jerry Cantu called a halt. Lubin led 48-47 on all three scorecards at the time of the finish.

Batyr Akhmedov, defeated by Barrios in 2019, returned to winning form by forcing ex-IBF super-featherweight titlist Algenis Mendez to retire on his stool at the end of eight rounds of a WBA super-lightweight title eliminator.

Mendez, from the Dominican Republic, bowed out timidly, citing an injury to his right hand. While Mendez should be given the benefit of the doubt insofar as his hand is concerned, the desire seemed to be lacking otherwise. Give credit to Akhmedov. The Uzbekistan fighter forced the action and was much busier throughout, going well to the body. Akhmedov did not hurt Mendez, but landed frequently. The winner led by 79-73 on two scorecards and 77-75 on the other when it ended. Brian Stutts refereed.

Carlos Adames’ power was on full display when he stopped Guadalajara’s Alexis Salazar at 2-59 of the third round of a scheduled 10. Adames (Dominican Republic) was too physically strong for his cagey opponent. A single left hook dropped Salazar, who staggered up early in the count and then stumbled into the ropes in no condition to continue. Just prior to the stoppage, Adames had two points taken away from him by referee Jim Korb for hitting and holding.

The Verdict Davis breaks Barrios down in an entertaining super-lightweight debut.