LONDON — Gervonta Davis showed why he is being tipped to be a future superstar after bludgeoning Liam Walsh to a third-round defeat in a first world title defence on Saturday.
The American produced another spectacular stoppage that met the approval of his conspicuous promoter Floyd Mayweather Jr, who put in an energetic performance himself as a ringside observer at the Copper Box Arena in east London.
There had been some verbals at a press conference earlier in the week and Davis seemed to treat Walsh with disdain when he exploded into action in the third round, dropping the Briton for a count before then following up and forcing the stoppage.
The IBF world super-featherweight champion’s punches were too quick and powerful for Walsh and Davis’ finish was ruthless, knocking down the Briton with vicious left hooks to the temple amid a ferocious combination.
There are bigger names in professional boxing than the 22-year-old from the dangerous streets of Baltimore — but for how much longer?
“I think he [Walsh] was hurt pretty bad, the referee did his job,” Davis said about a stoppage that came too quickly in the eyes of some, not least Walsh.
“It was just a matter of time before I got him. I used my boxing IQ tonight and picked my shots. When I connected I got him out of there. I’m still on the rise. I became a champion super-fast.”
But Walsh thought the stoppage was premature.
“That was a bad stoppage,” said Walsh. “He’s very fast and very active but it was too quick. He won fair and square but in England sometimes they stop the fight too early.
“I’m not saying the result would be different, but give me a chance, I would love to fight him again for next to nothing.”
Davis has a fan-friendly style of all-out aggression with slick combinations and dazzling hand speed. His relentless mode of attack, throwing short hooks from his 5-foot-6 frame, has earned him the nickname ‘Mini Mike Tyson’.
And Davis is flattening opponents just as Tyson did in the heavyweight division decades ago, with Walsh his latest victim.
After winning the belt in January in only his 17th fight, Davis claimed he was “on another level” to Briton Walsh before a first defence at one of the venues used for the London 2012 Olympics.
It was an accurate prediction from Davis, who claimed his 17th stoppage win in his 18th professional fight. Some of Walsh’s fans threw beer bottles and plastic glasses towards the ring after referee Michael Alexander’s stoppage, but the Briton was on shaky legs and not returning fire.
Walsh, 31, is one of three boxing brothers who is based in Norfolk on the east coast of England. A world title shot had been a long time coming for him: he was forced to pull out of challenging Ricky Burns for the WBO lightweight belt five years ago following a car crash. When it arrived, Walsh’s shot at glory was short-lived, but he lost to a dangerous and ambitious fighter.
Davis wants to become boxing’s pound-for-pound No 1 and standout star just as his promoter Mayweather was before he announced his retirement in September 2015.
Mayweather, 40, was ringside shouting instructions and encouragement at his protégé who he trains in Las Vegas.
Mayweather had kept silent in the previous few days over speculation he will be meeting UFC star Conor McGregor after the Irishman applied for a boxing license in Nevada. When asked post-fight if he would be stepping in the ring again, Mayweather turned it round to Davis, saying: “I think it [a fight with McGregor] will happen, and I hope this man is on the undercard.”
Davis enjoyed the limelight himself, shrugging off the jeers from Walsh’s fans and making a fast start.
Davis was quickly into his rhythm and landed a big left to the temple but Walsh grew in confidence towards the end of the first round.
Davis was posturing and talking at the start of the third round before exploding into action. When Davis opened up, two left hooks crashed into Walsh’s temple and scrambled his senses. Walsh was on his knees before getting to his feet at the count of nine, but he was on wobbly legs. Davis then forced the stoppage at two minutes and 11 seconds of the third round with another blizzard of blows.
There was a better result for the Walsh family on the undercard. Liam’s twin brother Ryan was too sharp for Belfast’s Marco McCullough before forcing an 11th round win in a third defence of his British featherweight title.
Walsh rocked McCullough — no relation to former world champion Wayne — with a flurry of punches in the fourth round but it was mostly a tactical encounter until the eighth when the Belfast boxer was in trouble again.
Walsh’s accuracy and work-rate kept him in control and he hurt McCullough with body shots in the eighth and ninth rounds. The champion tried to finish it in the tenth with swinging hooks that caught McCullough, who spent the last minute of the round trapped against the ropes.
Walsh then finished it in the 11th when he launched a sustained and unanswered attack with McCullough on the ropes. The Northern Irishman caught several hurtful hooks flush before the fight was stopped.
Londoner Daniel Dubois, 19, looks like he will be a menace in the heavyweight division after taking just 40 seconds to dispose of Dave Howe and extend his professional record to 3-0, all wins by stoppage.
Light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde, from nearby Ilford, is another one of promoter Frank Warren’s stable who is on the way up. Yarde (11-0, 10 KOs), 25, extended his unbeaten record with a fifth round win over Chris Hobbs, after forcing a first round knockdown with a right to the body. It was more digs to the body that put Hobbs down in the third and fourth rounds. Hobbs’ corner threw in the towel after the Southampton boxer sunk to his knees from a left to the body.